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President Obama Takes Budget Talks to The Streets

Photo by Samantha Appleton

White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

President Obama, once again took his case to the streets and the American people to demand that a compromise be made in the budget talks and that a deal be reached. We are still at a stalemate in talks. In speaking to the nation last night, the President made clear that “while the America people may have voted for a divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.” And right now dysfunctional is what we are seeing.


Avoiding a default crisis by paying our past bills is a path we have walked many times before.  What we are doing is raising the debt ceiling “to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up”. It is not to pay any new bills or buy new stuff.  And this is nothing new nor rocket science. Since the 1950’s Congress has always passed it and every President has signed it. Now, all of a sudden, with President Obama in the White House, the Republican Congress wants to change the way history has always led us—paying our bills.

Yes, the Republicans, this time, refuse to do what was done under Republican President Regan 18 times. Republican President George W. Bush raised it 7 times.  Instead, now the Republicans would rather see American default on all of bills, including Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and government contracts, risk our credit rating and even deepen our economic crisis. That’s just the way the Republicans roll. And President Obama makes note that “it’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now.”


And it’s a simple premise, one that many Americans are faced with each paycheck.  According to President Obama, “we’ve spent more money than we take in”. And we’ve not been using the money to pay our debt for the last 10 years but on trillions of dollars in 2 wars and new tax cuts for our rich Americans. The recession certainly hasn’t helped maters.


Republicans have said in the past that the only way they’ll agree to avoid a default is to agree to their deep spending cuts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein says “House Speaker John Boehner’s new budget proposal would require deep cuts in the years immediately ahead in Social
Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, the repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans. … If enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.”

So where do we go from here?  President Obama is urging everyone to call their representative to get the job done.  Yet, there is still a path to avoid an economic catastrophe  before the deadline of   August 2, 2011. The US Constitution requires that America shall pay her debts. Defaulting is not an option under our Constitution, not even for a day.  A clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides, “The validity of the public debt of the United States…shall not be questioned.”

President Obama and his team of lawyers need to seriously consider making history by saving our country rather than making history to lose our world standing. I
urge President Obama to show exemplary strength by taking whatever path he can find to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling and pay our past bills, if the Bozo’s in
can’t get the job done.

To listen to  the President’s speech, click here

Post Script: Congressional Sites crash after Pres. Obama’s speech.


Debbie Hines is a legal and political commentator who is frequently seen in the media. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on race and gender in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center. She has been featured in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Black Enterprise, among others.



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