Share & Connect
The disastrous debt ceiling debate is not going well for anyone. Eric Cantor looks like a spoiled brat; President Obama appears like he cannot force Congress to get this simple thing done and the rest of Congress looks relatively incompetent as well. However, the debt ceiling debacle is helping out Obama’s image with one highly sought after group-independent voters. And Obama knows this.
“It’s important for the American people that everybody in this town set politics aside, that everybody in this town set our individual interests aside, and we try to do some tough stuff. And I’ve already taken some heat from my party for being willing to compromise,” Obama said Friday as he delivered a message to Republicans worried about angering the GOP’s right flank. “My expectation and hope is, is that everybody, in the coming days, is going to be willing to compromise,” he said pointedly.
Over the past week or so, Obama has continually pointed out that he is willing to compromise to solve the debt ceiling debate, even offering up Medicare and Social Security as sacrificial lambs, angering the progressives.
Republicans have been insisting on no tax increases at all as part of a debt-and-spending deal. Critics call it an extreme position, noting that U.S. tax revenues are at near-historic lows as a share of the overall economy. Meanwhile, top Democrats have opposed Obama’s proposal to scale back cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, among other changes to entitlement programs.
People following the debate know that Obama “has been more than willing to make hard sacrifices to reach a compromise,” said Matt Bennett of Third Way, a Democratic-leaning group that pushes for bipartisan accords and moderate policies. Although Obama will take some of the blame if a debt crisis occurs, independent voters will be more likely to side with Obama. “They say polarization is bad for the country,” Bennett said, “and extreme ideology is a road to nowhere.”
Polling by the Pew Research Center suggests that independent voters are more concerned about the inability to raise the debt ceiling by the deadline. This could serve to help Obama next year for re-election, especially when compared against the Republican field of candidates who offer no solution on the debt ceiling.