Obama “Leads From Behind” In Latest Press Conference (With Updates)

Obama told Eric Cantor during that Wednesday evening meeting, right before he stormed out of the room, that he would take his case “to the American people”. We’re still trying to figure out what his case is.

Republicans have been pulling their hair out in the budget negotiations with Obama, because he refuses to offer specifics on entitlements he would be willing to reform.

Charles Krauthammer hit him on this in his recent column, Call His Bluff:

All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.

Hasn’t the White House leaked that he’s prepared to raise the Medicare age or change the cost-of-living calculation?

Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.

Say it, Mr. President. Give us one single structural change in entitlements. In public.

Jake Tapper gave Obama the opportunity to do just that in his press conference, today:

Tapper: In the interest of transparency, leadership and offering – also showing the American people that you have been negotiating in good faith, can you tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major impact on the deficit?  Would you be willing to raise the retirement age?  Would you be willing to means test Social Security or Medicare?

Obama:   We’ve said that we are willing to look at all those approaches.  I’ve laid out some criteria in terms of what would be acceptable.  So for example, I’ve said very clearly that we should make sure that current beneficiaries, as much as possible, are not affected, but we should look at what can we do in the out years so that, over time, some of these programs are more sustainable.  I’ve said that means testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself, if — you know, I’m going to be turning 50 in a week, so —


OBAMA:  I’m starting to think a little bit more about Medicare eligibility.  (Laughter.)  The — the — (chuckles) — yeah, I’m going to get my AARP card soon and the discounts.  But the — you know, you can envision a situation where, for somebody in my position, me having to pay a little bit more on premiums or co-pays or things like that would be appropriate. And again, that could make a difference.

Okay, enough about yourself. Is this on the table, or not? “Being willing to look at” something isn’t the same thing as doing it. Are you making a deal with Republicans on Medicare reform or not?

Obama: So we’ve been very clear about where we’re willing to go.  What we’re not willing to do is to restructure the program in the ways that we’ve seen coming out of the House over the last several months, where we would voucherize the program and you potentially have senior citizens paying $6,000 more.

I’ll take that as a “no”.

TAPPER:  And the retirement age?

 OBAMA:  You know, I’m not going to get into specifics. As I said, Jake, everything that you mentioned are things that we have discussed.

I’ll take that as a “no”.

Meanwhile, Republicans are taking The Hammer’s advice and are calling Obama’s bluff, as Ed Morrissey reports at Hot Air:

While Barack Obama went to the press for the third time in 17 days, John Boehner and Eric Cantor called his bluff in the House.  The Republican leadership announced that the House would vote on a plan to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and matching cuts:

House Republicans said Friday that they planned to vote next week on a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, with matching cuts and guidelines to control future government spending.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said at a news conference Friday that the House next week would vote on a “cut, cap and balance” approach. The House plans to separately vote on a measure that would amend the U.S. Constitution to require the federal government to balance its budget.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Friday that the White House has been “unwilling to put a real plan on the table,” but said next week’s vote would not “preclude” the chance of reaching a deal with Democrats.


Obama’s third press conference produced exactly what his first two press conferences already delivered: no plan, no specifics.  In fact, Obama explicitly stated, “I’m not going to get into specifics.”  House Republicans have offered — and passed — a very specific plan to reduce spending and the need for future borrowing.  Obama’s own debt commission delivered a very specific plan, which Obama has entirely ignored for five months.  James Pethokoukis was prompted to tweet, “Leading from behind,” and at this late date, it’s hard to grasp what the White House wanted from a rehash of the prior two press conferences.


The Weekly Standard: Obama Misleads on Support for ‘Balanced’ Deficit Agreement

All American Blogger: Obama: 80% of Americans Support Tax Increases; Actual Poll: 73% Blame Wasteful Spending For Deficit

Does Obama really expect us to believe that 80% of Americans support tax hikes? Is he insane????

Jennifer Rubin: Another — yawn — Obama press conference

I can tell you most members of the Beltway media, Hill staffers and lawmakers have stopped listening to President Obama’s press conferences. They know by now what he will say. We have to work together. We need a balanced approach. Everyone has to share the pain. The Republicans need to compromise. I’ve made real compromises.

If you missed today’s installation, you didn’t miss much, other than the ludicrous suggestion that the Republicans’ base wants tax hikes. He’s threatening to go to the public. Oh, my.

Speaker Boehner  voiced his frustration with the president in this press release issued after the presser:

“President Obama has been talking tough about cutting spending, but his deeds aren’t matching his words. Consider all of the government boondoggles he has refused to put on the table for cuts: ObamaCare; the so-called ‘green jobs’ initiative; high-speed rail; and a vast array of other pet projects that are unnecessarily costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. While Republicans have focused on the big problems we face, this White House has focused on protecting the status quo. The same holds true for entitlement spending, where the White House has been talking in terms of nickels and dimes at a time when trillions of dollars in serious reforms are needed to preserve the programs andput them on a sustainable path.

Legal Insurrection: Sounds like Obama will not call his own bluff


The Republican Press conference following Obama’s presser:

Boehner: “we asked the president to lead, we asked him to to put forward a plan -not a speech – a real plan – and he hasn’t – but we will.”

John Guardiano: The American Spectator:

If you cut through all of the political spin and media fog, here’s what’s happening in the so-called debt negotiations: Congressional Republicans are negotiating; Obama’s campaigning. They’re legislating (or at least trying to legislate); he’s grandstanding. They want to cut the debt; he wants to win reelection. The result: impasse.

That Obama is not negotiating in good faith is obvious. He hasn’t offered up a budget; he hasn’t proposed a debt reduction plan; and he hasn’t specified any real cuts save for a massive gutting of the defense budget.