Explainer in Chief

During his press conference this morning, President Obama took the opportunity to explain how the debt ceiling works since so many people both in and outside of politics seem to be unaware.

The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation. And…. there’s a very simple solution to this: congress authorizes us to pay our bills.

If the House and the Senate want to give me the authority so that they don’t have to take these tough votes, if they want to put the responsibility on me to raise the debt ceiling I’m happy to take it.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, had a proposal like that last year, and I’m happy to accept it, but if they want to keep this responsibility then they need to go ahead and get it done.

And there are no magic tricks here. There are no loopholes. There are no easy outs. This is a matter of congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me you need to fund our defense department at such an such a level. You need to send out social security checks. You need to make sure that you’re paying to care for our veterans. They lay all this out for me, because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills. Separately, they also have to authorize a raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure those bills are paid.

So what congress can’t do is tell me to spend X and then say we’re not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills.

He also made it very clear, once again, that he will not play games over the debt ceiling and said that Republicans “will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”

If Congressional Republicans refused to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks.

Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire. Interests rates would spike for anybody who borrows money. Every homeonwer with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.

It would be a self-inflicted wound on he economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession and, ironically, would probably increase our deficit.

So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd. As the Speaker said two years ago, it would be — I’m quoting Speaker Boehner now — a financial disaster not only for us but for the world wide economy.

So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in congress have two choices here: they can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.

The president drives a pretty hard bargain, and if you are someone who incessantly calls for the president to use the “bully pulpit,” you should be elated, because this is as close to doing that as you can get.

The White House press corps, in all their professional glory, also asked the president today why he doesn’t socialize with people who hate him more. And considering that derptastic question, you can see why he felt the need to explain how basic governance works.

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  • GrafZeppelin127

    This is the one most important thing that the “OBAMA TEH SPENDINGZZZZZ!!!!!!” freakaholics on the Right don’t know and don’t understand, because their media enablers want them to believe otherwise:

    [C]ongress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me you need to fund our defense department at such an such a level. You need to send out social security checks. You need to make sure that you’re paying to care for our veterans. They lay all this out for me, because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.

    What the Very Smart Black Man means is that the U.S. Government spends what the law authorizes and requires it to spend. The law, not the President. The President has to spend what the law requires him to spend; he can’t not spend money that Congress has already appropriated. He can’t not pay the nation’s bills. A president’s refusing to spend money that Congress has appropriated is an impeachable offense.

  • Brutlyhonest

    I caught the very end of the press conference and then couldn’t change the channel fast enough to avoid teh stoopid emanating from the mouths of pelley and schaefer. The gist of their inanity was that the President wasn’t really looking to negotiate; he was simply declaring his positions so it would be business (or lack thereof) as usual. It’s absolutely no wonder so much of the population is so mis-informed.

  • Draxiar

    Talking and explaining to the American people…an absolutely brilliant gesture on President Obama’s part.

  • MrDHalen

    I have to say from my view; the president is rolling the GOP. He got tax increases on the wealthy, held them for the middle class and got the Republicans to believe the debt ceiling debate was their ticket to entitlement cuts. Wow!!!

    Now he’s pointing at congress and saying “I’m just over doing my job and spending what you told me to spend!” Just brilliant politics if he holds his ground, because the Republicans will receive all the blame for default or shutdown.

  • bphoon

    The President is giving the GOP the rope and they’re just about finished tying the noose. Next, they’ll climb onto the stool and put it around their neck. Unfortunately, I can’t predict whether they’ll be crazy enough to kick the stool out from under themselves.

    If it was just them practicing self-immolation, I’d pop some corn, pull up a seat and watch. At least half of them seem determined, though, to pull the rest of us down with them with no thought, or care seemingly, to the consequences.

    I really, really hate having to pay for someone else’s ignorance and/or stupidity. I expect most other folks do, too. The GOP under Gingrich got blamed for the last government shutdown and the GOP under Boehner will, too, I’m certain of it. It’s a travesty, however, that so many will potentially be hurt so they can indulge in their bit of kabuki.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Marshall McLuhan stated that the media is the message. Listening to the White House press corps talk to the president, their message seems to be “WHY IZ DA TOOTPASTE MINTY TASTEE?!!”