President Obama is getting ready to negotiate (or if you believe him, not negotiate) an extension of the debt limit. The Republicans control the House and are promising to follow Donald Trump’s suggestion that they use what he called the “nuclear weapon” to terrorize the U.S. economy and people in order to gain negotiating leverage over Obama. That act of treachery was designed to produce two other acts of betrayal of the American people. First, Trump’s urged the Republicans to use their “nuclear weapon” to force Obama to inflict austerity on our Nation and force us back into recession. Second, Trump urged the Republicans to use their leverage to force Obama to gut the safety net. It is somehow fitting that Trump’s advice to act in unprincipled manner was designed to produce policies that would enrich the wealthy and cause immense harm to the Nation.
Naturally, the Republican Party has decided to adopt Trump’s “nuclear weapon” strategy in its entirety. A Party that takes its policy advice from Donald Trump – advice to use a “nuclear weapon” on our economy in order to extort policy changes that will enrich the 1% at the expense of the Nation – has become a self-parody and the enemy of the American people.
I wrote to warn about how to disarm Trump’s treacherous threat to use a nuclear weapon against America.
Like many readers, I have been a negotiator in important matters. This was one of my functions as Litigation Director of a federal agency. In my column I showed multiple ways in which Obama could eliminate permanently the ability of any Party to use the debt limit as a means of terror and extortion against America. We can defuse Trump’s “nuclear weapon.”
Obama, however, has systematically thrown away the means to defuse the weapon. He has unilaterally disarmed as he prepares to confront Speaker Boehner. He has unilaterally refused to do his duty under the 14th amendment and he has unilaterally refused to use the platinum-clad coin to defuse Trump’s nuclear weapon. Indeed, he has ginned up and put in the public record the absurd legal position that Treasury has no authority to issue such a platinum-clad coin and made the even more preposterous claim that the Federal Reserve would violate instructions from the Treasury to accept such a coin. If Obama had wanted to use the platinum-clad coin or the 14th amendment the Treasury opinion would have been said the opposite, and the opinion could have been written without torturing the language of the statute. By torturing the language of the statute to create a negative legal opinion Obama has cast doubt on the legal ability of future presidents who would have the courage to defuse Trump’s nuclear weapon to do so. Obama’s actions either indicate that he does not know how to negotiate or wishes to be “forced” by the Republicans to make deep cuts to social programs and begin to unravel the safety net.
Even commentators like Ezra Klein who opposed defusing Trump’s “nuclear weapon” fear that Obama does not really intend to stand up to Republican demands to cut social programs and the safety net. I have explained in prior articles how Obama has repeatedly attempted to inflict the “Grand Betrayal” on the Nation. The Grand Betrayal is Trump’s destructive plan for the Nation. Klein’s title shows his concern. “On the debt ceiling, the White House tries to solve its credibility problem.”
It may prove impossible to save Obama from Obama, but it is critical that we continue to try to do so. He has tried three times to commit the Grand Betrayal and failed. The most recent attempt, in early January 2013 was blocked when Senate Majority Leader Reid threw Obama’s proposed terms of surrender into his fireplace. Only continuous efforts by progressives can prevent the disaster of austerity and the betrayal of the safety net.
This piece is cross-posted from New Economic Perspectives with permission.