The current standoff in Washington over the budget and the debt limit has penetrated my subconscious. Last night I had a strange dream, which may be worth repeating for your analysis.
In my dream, President Obama is in the White House press room addressing the press corps. He makes an introductory speech, which goes something like this:
“Good morning. As you are aware, the Republicans have shut down our government and threaten to not approve a raise in the debt ceiling unless Obamacare is repealed. I have repeatedly denounced these tactics as blackmail which is taking a reckless chance with our economy. Indeed, if we default on our obligations, there is universal agreement that the consequences will be dramatic and irreversible. U.S. obligations will be severely down-graded and permanently lose a substantial amount of their value. And these obligations, up to now the world’s most secure investments, are held in most people’s IRAs, 401(k)s and pension funds.
“I’ve indicated that I will refuse to negotiate on this matter because that would constitute surrendering to hostage takers and encourage future blackmail. Of course, the Republicans repeatedly announce that they are willing to negotiate and I am not.
“But I am here to announce that I have had a change of mind. I now realize that blackmail is an effective tool for getting your way on legislation. And, of course, it is a double-edged sword. Congress and the presidency are co-equal branches of government. Presumably, Congress, as the holder of the purse-strings, should be as concerned as the president about maintaining the credit of the United States.
“Therefore, I wish to inform Congress that I will veto any funding or debt-ceiling bill that does not include the modest gun-control proposals relating to background checks and bullet clips which Congress refused to adopt last summer. Polls showed that these measures had substantial popular support, even among gun owners, but a combination of Republicans and cowardly Democrats who cringe before the NRA prevented their adoption. This is something the country wants and needs, and the risks to the economy and the nation’s fiscal reputation are well worth it.
“That said, I am prepared to negotiate a compromise with the Republicans on both spending and the debt ceiling and look forward to discussions seeking a reasonable and sane solution.”
Of course, this was just a dream.