Obama challenges Congress in $4tn budget gamble

US president Barack Obama Mr Obama hopes if talks fail, the Republicans will look like ideological hotheads

They are talking big at the White House.

Millions, billions, trillions, gazillions. The numbers are so huge as to be meaningless.

But forget any idea that this is about economics. It is politics in the raw.

President Barack Obama is playing double and quits. He has offered to double his package of cuts. From $2 trillion (£1.25 trillion) to $4 trillion.

His apparent offer to cut pensions (Social Security) and healthcare for the elderly (Medicare) will horrify many of his own supporters.

If the Republicans quit, refuse to do a deal in the face of what looks like the president being so willing to compromise that he is damaging his reputation with his own party, they will look like ideological hotheads.

Just to make sure they are put on the spot the president has laced his package with tax increases, which he knows are anathema to most Republicans.

He's already accused them of holding a gun to America's head in order to help the wealthy.

This may not work. The public may decide the Republicans are the ones being reasonable, that the president's proposed cuts are not big enough or even that the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised anyhow.

But the stakes are high. Mr Obama was elected in part on the big cuddly vision of bringing all sides together, to ending Washington politics as usual. That clearly hasn't happened.

So he has to have a story to explain why red and blue has not merged into a consensual purple. Indeed since he took office the gap between Republicans and Democrats has widened.

His latest offer of cuts is designed to make a specific argument - that he is willing to go the extra mile, to stick his neck out, but that his opponents are so entrenched in their narrow political foxhole that they would rather cause another economic crisis than make a single compromise.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 818.

    BillyBobClinton = everything that is wrong with America today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    The first article of the United States Constitution clearly gives Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes. Also, All bills for revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.Congress has sole power power to lay and collect taxes. What is theGOP's problem? Go look it up!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 816.

    800 Lucy.

    US already in WWIII financially.
    Everything won in WWII in the Pacific, Europe, is being undone.

    Damage to USA in Bush Jr. term = worse than loss of Singapore; approx = losing at Midway, Dunkirk, Torch landings, El Alamein, Monte Casino, & Leyte Gulf.

    Tea Party idiots now want to convert that disaster into the equivalent of losing at Stalingrad and Normandy beaches. Insane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 815.

    793 Lucy
    It wasn't raising taxes that made the economy prosper.

    It was the demonstration to the world that serious adults were in charge, who were prepared to tackle problems.

    And instead, right now the Republicans are being held hostage by a bunch of "no new taxes" clowns, who would rather see their nation destroyed than behave like mature adults.

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.

    760 R.: time for tax cuts was after the fall, not during the boom. But by then that bolt had been shot.

    The Bush tax cuts were a bad, bad mistake, from inception.

    Last year federal revenue was 15% of GDP.
    Trend has been downward for years.

    Can't run a major western government on that.
    Even the Swiss can't, and they have the most democratic, most cost effective government on earth.


Comments 5 of 818



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