The President's frustration on getting the debt ceiling raised is understandable, but he has himself to blame for much of it. President Barack Obama must accept responsibility for his blunder encouraging Republican intransigence. The blunder in question is his putting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the table. This encouraged Republicans to think that they might be able to have Democratic acquiescence to a start down the road to their holy grail, the complete destruction of the New Deal and the Great Society.
Republicans have a compelling political reason to have these programs as a part of the debt ceiling agreement that is even more important to them than their bad faith maneuvering to resurrect this issue one more time before the 2012 election. That reason is that their party has been scorched on the entitlement third rail, courtesy of Paul Ryan's budget proposal to destroy Medicare. Consequently, they have seen that issue used in a way that had Republicans voting for the Democratic candidate in New York's 26th Congressional District.
Extrapolating that effect to the national election in 2012 gives them a vision of a Congress where Republicans would be fortunate to be riding a bicycle in to deliver sandwiches, let alone having a caucus with any influence on legislation.
With this realization, the Republicans are desperate to be able to smear Democrats with the mud that they are sinking in, and now they will accept nothing less than a plan that includes Democratic acceptance of, or better yet, Democratic proposals for, the hacking of holes in the New Deal social safety net. Such a coup would take that issue right out of the hands of Democrats in 2012, making the choice between Democrat and Republican little more than a cosmetic coin flip.
Obama was a fool to regurgitate that proposal onto the table as a reflex action. In doing so, he encouraged Republicans in their hostage holding of the nation's and the world's economy. Of course, this also exposes, once again, Obama's baseline blunder, which is his presupposition that Republicans, and especially Republicans in thrall to the TEA Parties, are even capable of bargaining in good faith. They are not; and one wonders how many times the President must have that concept demonstrated before he accepts it as fact.
Now we have the Reid plan that gives Republicans forgiveness for their abdication of responsibility to Grover Norquist and significant spending cuts, mainly to the programs that gave us the deficit, while holding entitlements back from vulnerability for the moment. Republicans have rejected it out of hand due to the encouragement given them by the President. As they tremble in contact with that third rail, they are desperate to grab at any passerby for salvation, or what will suit them just as well, someone to bring along as a date on their fall to perdition.
Democrats, and their President, at this late date will have to stand fast, and see if Republicans really are bereft of any shred of sanity. The alternative of giving them what they scream for will come to a pass where the consequences are far and away more horrible than the loss of the hostage that they are holding now; and that is saying quite a lot.