Inside Obama's head: Why he didn't jump at a 6-week extension

A 6-week extension of the debt limit didn't get a quick Presidential okay. It's because Obama is running through his political calculations. Photo: Special to the Washington Times

WASHINGTON, October 11, 2013 —Why didn’t President Obama jump at House Speaker Boehner’s offer of a “clean” 6-week extension of America’s ability to borrow? As always, he’s running through his political calculations.

Keep in mind Obama’s objectives:


SEE RELATED: How do you negotiate with a President who cannot be trusted?


1. Preserve Obamacare: His grand plan is coming apart at the seams rapidly. Six weeks may be the worst possible period of time because it’s long enough for Obamacare’s fatal flaws to be exposed yet too short for the program to sink in roots and trap millions in dependency upon it. That could embolden Republicans even more to demand that Obamacare be delayed or stopped. What Obama wants is an extension long enough that it becomes too late to stop Obamacare.

2. Add Spending: Obama wants to add $160-billion in new spending this fiscal year and more “stimulus.” But spending levels aren’t included in a “clean” extension of the debt ceiling. Instead, those numbers are involved in the other big fight with Republicans, over the shutdown rather than the debt ceiling. It involves separate legislation. Obama wants leverage that he gets by combining the spending decisions with the debt limit decisions, not a “clean” debt limit extension like Boehner offered.

3. Smash the GOP: Boehner’s offer looks reasonable in public perception. That’s bad for Obama’s goal of destroying his political foes so Democrats can reap the benefits in next year’s elections. The White House needs a little time to think up a plan of how to throw mud at this offer and make it stick. They expect that whatever flimsy accusation they concoct will then be adopted by the toadies among the mainstream media.

Regardless of Obama’s thinking, just because a six-week extension might be bad for Obama doesn’t make it good for the country.


SEE RELATED: Obamacare has become the Un-Affordable Care Act


Six weeks from now we’ll all have Thanksgiving on our minds. Procrastination is a classic Washington maneuver so that public attention will be distracted and die down. That creates wiggle room for political moves.


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More from Ernest Istook: Knowing the Inside
 
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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

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