Analysis, by ABC News political director Amy Walter:
It seems only appropriate that President Obama’s address to the nation broke into reality show programming. Interrupting ABC’s “The Bachlorette” were two men from Washington, D.C., trying to win the hearts and minds of the American public.
Both Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the opportunity to criticize the other, though the president presented himself as more open than Speaker Boehner on an ultimate compromise. He even asked Americans to weigh in, “American Idol” style.
“I’m asking you all to make your voice heard,” said Obama, “If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”
So what does this “compromise” look like?
President Obama made clear that he wasn’t much interested in the House GOP plan to cut $1T in spending but revisit the debt ceiling again before the end of 2012.
“The new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now,” said Obama, “In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.”
So what does the president see as the way forward? A plan outlined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would cut spending by $1T, but doesn’t touch entitlement spending or taxes. It’s also faces long odds of passage in the Senate.
“The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months,” said Obama.
“I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.”
Boehner’s response a couple minutes later was short on diplomacy and not terribly interested in compromise.
“I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap and Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law,” said Boehner. “I gave it my all.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.
“The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today,” Boehner said. ”That is just not going to happen. “
Boehner’s idea of compromise? The president needs to agree with the GOP.
“You see, there is no stalemate in Congress,” Boehner said. “The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill – one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.
“Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate and be sent to the president for his signature,” Boehner added. “If the president signs it, the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than $1 trillion and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.”
Unlike reality TV however, Americans can’t text their way to a debt compromise. That chance won’t come until next November.