Can Obama scold the GOP into a debt deal?

The president swats at conservatives, telling them to "do their job" and accept higher taxes for the super-rich. Will that sway Republicans, or just vex them?

President Obama
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Obama used a Wednesday press conference to pick a fight with Republicans over tax breaks for the rich. Obama insisted that GOP lawmakers would have to accept tax increases as part of a deficit reduction package that's tied to a debt-ceiling hike. If no deal is reached by August 2, the federal government will exceed its legal borrowing limit, and default on its debts. Obama mocked Republicans for protecting tax breaks for "millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, and corporate jet owners," and said they need to "do their job" by making sacrifices to get a debt deal done. "Call me naive," Obama said, "but my expectation is leaders are going to lead." Will his strategy work?

Obama is hurting the chances of a deal: If Obama's only contribution to the debate is "belittling Republicans for not wanting to raise taxes," says Matthew Continetti at The Washington Post, don't hold your breath for a deal to raise the debt ceiling. A real leader would propose sacrifices for both liberal and conservative constituencies. Instead, Obama's just "playing the same old game of coalition politics, desperately trying to divide the public by pitting Republicans and the rich against the rest of America."

"Obama's not helping the chances of a deal to raise the debt ceiling"

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The president is only stating the obvious: Obama's position is the right one — "economically and politically," says John Nichols at The Nation. It's just impossible to have a serious discussion about balancing the budget without "fair taxation" of the ultra wealthy. If anything, Obama was too accommodating to the GOP by suggesting that, in the spirit of compromise, Democrats might have to bend on the GOP's "unpopular schemes" to chip away at Medicaid and Medicare.

"Obama: 'It's only fair' to ask rich to give up tax breaks"

It's a clever move, but it won't work: Obama has performed some impressive political "jujitsu," says Ron Fournier at National Journal. After Republicans damaged the president by casting him as "a tax-raiser and Big-Government spender," he's put them on the defensive by suggesting that "Democrats are for kids and Republicans are for corporate jets." But Republicans have to answer to Tea Partiers who want "draconian budget cuts," but not tax hikes. If Obama thinks one press conference will change that reality, he's naive.

"Obama: It's kids versus corporate jets on debt-ceiling talks"

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