Democratic officials say in his speech to the nation this evening, the president will point out that House Republicans are pursuing a plan that likely cannot pass the Senate, Senate Democrats are pursuing a plan that likely cannot pass the House (and may not even make it through the Senate). The nation is stuck in a congressional stalemate, he will say, and now we need to come together to avoid default.
“We have to put a premium on compromise,” the Democratic official said.
Mr. Obama opposes the House Republican plan, which will raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion or so, meaning this debate would need to be revisited in Spring 2012. The plan, put forward by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, today, will establish a 12-member bipartisan super-committee of members of the House and Senate to come up with $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction.
If they fail to pass something not only out of committee but as legislation, the House and Senate would be required to come up with $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction. If it does so successfully, the president would automatically be able to raise the debt ceiling by $1.6 trillion.
Democratic officials scoffed at this notion, saying “if history is any guide, the commission will not be a success…It’s almost guaranteed to be a 6-6 deal.”
“The notion that you can put the economy through this again” next year isn’t responsible, one Democratic official said. The official said Republicans were using the “debt limit as a weapon to force their ideological budget goals on the country.”
The president will also make the case that Congress needs to do much more than get through this moment – there remains much more work to be done on entitlement reform and tax reform, the official said.
Why speak to the county tonight? A prime time address is different than his middle-of-the workday press briefings, reaching a different audience, an official said. “I guarantee you that 80% of the audience tonight has never seen more than a 10 second clip of the president talking about this.” Officials also said that given the possibility that this might come down to the wire next week – or worse – the president needs to address the nation to prepare the public.
-Jake Tapper (@jaketapper)