The Washington Post

Obama kills bipartisan deal, then Reid resorts to smoke and mirrors

As I reported earlier, the president rejected a bipartisan congressional deal that would have calmed the markets, resolved the debt-ceiling crisis and restored faith in Washington politicians. President Obama was having none of it, demonstrating once and for all that the problem is NOT the House Republicans, but the election-obsessed White House.

So then the parties begin to devise separate congressional plans. The Post reports, “Senate Democrats are preparing to introduce legislation that would avert a national default on Aug. 2 and achieve $2.7 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade without raising taxes.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is devising a sham that will never pass muster in the House. A Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the plan tells me: “It includes $1.2 trillion in OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] savings . . . which was assumed anyway, $1.2 trillion (over $1.1 trillion less than [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor identified in the Biden talks) and $300 billion in interest savings.” A Senate aide says dryly that Reid “has about a trillion in ‘savings’ from ending the war in Iraq that’s already going to end.” And a disgusted House adviser bluntly tells me that Reid’s plan “isn’t real.”

We shouldn’t be too harsh on Reid. HE DID reach a bipartisan deal with the House. But the president squashed it. (Note to Congress: Next time don’t ask, just pass it and leave town.) Now we are back to gamesmanship.

It is extremely telling, however, that Reid’s plan contains NO tax hike. As I suspected, Obama doesn’t have enough support even in his own party (and particularly from Senate Democrats facing reelection) to pass the massive tax increases that he and his liberal base demand. And yet Obama at the last minute in negotiations with the speaker of the House last week threw in $400 billion in more taxes. There could only have been one purpose for that, since the Senate is as tax-hike-averse as the House: to create a crisis. We have finally found the president’s strong suit.

More on this topic in PostOpinions

Rubin: Reid’s debt-limit proposal is a sham

Marcus: Boehner leaves Obama at the altar

Dionne: Obama and the other deficit

Samuelson: Old economic order crumbling

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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