WASHINGTON (AP) — This time, President Barack Obama says, he’s not budging. This is the confrontational Obama, the “Make my day” president, betting Republicans blink to avoid a government shutdown or a first-ever default of the nation’s debts.
It’s a proposition not without risk and one with a history of last-minute accommodations on both sides. Brinkmanship between Obama and congressional Republicans has often stopped at the precipice’s edge.
In this round, however, the president and his aides maintain that when it comes to raising the government’s borrowing authority and meeting its debt obligations, there’s no bargaining. To conservatives wishing to undo the 3-year-old health care law in exchange for an increase in the nation’s credit, Obama on Friday said bluntly: “That’s not going to happen.”
“I don’t know how I can be more clear about this: Nobody gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States just to extract political concessions,” Obama said in a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room.
Still, House Speaker John Boehner says a debt hike must be linked to budget cuts and other programmatic changes.
“The president says, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’” Boehner said. “Well, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
Obama’s stance is rooted in experience, politics and a desire to protect himself from similar demands in the remaining three years of his presidency.
Obama advisers note that past negotiations have not yielded grand bargains and that the mere threat of default in 2011 rattled the economy, causing a downgrade in U.S. credit. Talks earlier this year to avoid automatic spending cuts known as sequestration also failed.
Obama aides also note that Boehner himself eight months ago declared an end to negotiations with Obama, favoring the regular legislative process instead.