Obama Should Marginalize GOP Over Debt Ceiling Debate

Obama should stop the GOP from squeezing more lifeblood out of the middle class with deep spending cuts.

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Dear President Obama,

Your 50th birthday is nearly upon you this summer, falling on August 4, roughly when the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury may collapse in the global economy.

What an awful present to a forever-young president. Sorry, but right now, the sunny glow of youth is not a good look for you. Age and gravitas would become you better than the grace of a gazelle, as you move. And the candles at the court—well, they're not burning very bright these mid-summer nights. Something has got to give. Mind if I offer more free advice, gift-wrapped, to someone I wish well?

[See political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

House Republicans would dearly love to give a gift of default to you by refusing to raise the nation's debt ceiling, resulting in calamity on top of a deep recession and high joblessness. Let their handwriting be all over that wall. A group of GOP House freshmen are ready to darken your door at the White House with more demands. Don't let them in, and, more to the point, don't engage your extreme enemies. It didn't work out in the Bible's 23rd Psalm, and it won't work out now. A friendly word of warning: Don't invite your enemies to your birthday parties to make friends.

Stick with your real friends. They're called Democrats.

In other words, the rambunctious House Republican majority, which controls only one chamber in Congress, must be marginalized, and nobody but you can do it. No more golf with House Speaker John Boehner. No more sweating over sweet reasoning with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, an Old South Virginian who represents Richmond. No more sitting down at a table with House Republicans to squeeze more lifeblood out of the middle class with deep spending cuts. Place pressure on them by explaining to the nation what's at stake—and let them own the prospect of default. That's the art and game of governing. [Vote now: Will there be a debt ceiling deal?]

The White House appears to be in a state of siege over the debt ceiling limit, at the mercy of a bizarre notion that economic shipwreck will promote Republican political fortunes. If perception is 100 percent of reality in politics, you are losing the public opinion battle. But you are the democratically elected president of the United States, not Boehner or Cantor. Heck, you even won Virginia.

Remind your enemies what a great campaigner you are. While you're at it, show the American people whose side you're on. [See a slide show of 6 consequences if the debt ceiling isn't raised.]

Worse is coming to worse. So get on the phone with Bill Clinton, always there for you at the other end of a secure line. The lion in winter would love to help the gazelle in summer.

Many happy returns—let's say five, but who's counting?

  • See political cartoons on the budget and deficit.
  • Vote now: Will there be a debt ceiling deal?
  • Slide Show: 6 Ways to Raise the Debt Ceiling