Although histrionically impatient with Republicans' refusal to accept certain measures, Obama insists he will "not accept" a debt-ceiling deal that does not increase income taxes. Surely this is the meaning of his July 11 words: "I do not want, and will not accept, a deal in which ... I'm able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don't need."
To understand Republican distrust of him, consider, from the many examples of his paltering with the truth, his July 15 news conference, wherein he veered from the subject of the debt ceiling to say "I've got three trade deals ready to go" yet they are "being held up because some folks don't want to provide Trade Adjustment Assistance to people who may be displaced as a consequence of trade." The facts are:
TAA, which has existed since 1962, enjoys bipartisan support. The 2009 stimulus increased it, supposedly temporarily, and it did revert to pre-stimulus levels in February. Now, however, Democrats suddenly insist that TAA's stimulus levels be made permanent.
Obama's wee mendacity about TAA illustrates the large stakes of the debt debate, which is a proxy for an epochal argument about the nature of American governance. Obama's money gusher has driven federal spending from under 20% of GDP to almost 25%. Democrats consider this the new normal — until it becomes the base from which they launch their next surge of statism.
Will must be smart, he writes like me. The last sentence says it all.