Bloomberg rebukes Obama over collapse of debt talks

November 21, 2011

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a rare public rebuke of President Obama on Monday, saying the collapse of the debt talks in Washington is a threat to the economy and a display of a failure in leadership.

“It’s the chief executive’s job to bring people together and to provide leadership. I don’t see that happening,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in Staten Island as the so-called supercommittee effectively called it quits.

Bloomberg called the supercommittee failure a “damning indictment of Washington’s inability to govern this country,” criticizing both parties for inaction.

But his slap at Obama stood out: Bloomberg has often been rumored as a potential third-party presidential candidate in 2012, although he has taken no steps to run. Bloomberg’s remarks Monday echoed a speech he gave at the Center for American Progress on Nov. 8, in which he accused lawmakers of lacking political courage.

“The executive branch must do more than submit a plan to a committee — and then step aside and hope the committee members take action,” Bloomberg said in that speech. “That’s not how any CEO would run a business — and at least in modern times, it’s not how landmark pieces of legislation have gotten through Congress. Tough problems require determined, forceful and bold leadership — and real action.”

White House officials have said the president did as much as possible to encourage the supercommittee without risking a backlash. Obama offered a proposal for $3 trillion in budget savings, more than the $1.2 trillion the group of 12 lawmakers was tasked with finding. With the collapse of the talks, an across-the-board budget cut will take place in 2013 unless further negotiations get underway.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday deflected any blame for the panel’s failure. He blamed the Republicans’ refusal to raise taxes on the wealthy, saying “it comes down to a decision by Republicans that they aren’t willing to do what the American people say should be done.”

   That bit of finger-pointing, coming during Carney’s regular press briefing, came moments after the spokesman offered some advice to lawmakers, who in recent days have been lobbing charges across the aisle: “Instead of pointing fingers or playing the blame game, Congress should act.”

Bloomberg’s aspirations, a source of constant speculation, prompted a lengthy profile by the Daily Beast recently. In it, a senior aide, Kevin Sheekey, is quoted as saying Bloomberg “stands to become something much larger after he leaves office.” Then again, such hints are a regular part of the Bloomberg profile by now.

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