Since when do presidents lead congressional committee debates?

So the congressional super committee failed. Republican candidates are coming out of the woodworks blaming President Barack Obama for the committee’s failure.


If the Joint Economic Committee fails to agree on whether tax reform can boost the economy and create jobs, do we blame the president?

If the Joint Committee on Taxation fails to agree on whether revenue estimates are correct, do we blame the president?

Yes, one can argue that given the mission of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was to find $1.2 trillion in cuts to our national budget, that these cuts would affect President Obama’s own policies and vision for governing. One could also argue that because of the impacts cuts would have on governance that Mr. Obama should have made it imperative to show “leadership” via negotiations with the committee.

But is mucking around with congressmen on a spending measure the best way for the president to spend his time? Wasn’t this exercise exclusively in the purview of the Congress?

The answer is no. The president is America’s chief lobbyist to the Congress and should be involved. House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas and co-chair of the debt reduction committee, called on Mr. Obama to show leadership, which is a joke given that these guys are looking forward to leading him out of the back door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into Marine One.

But Mr. Obama engaged this debate the smart way. Rolling in the mud, at least publicly, with a Republican faction not prepared to give him anything, and a Democratic faction that believes it can’t get anything more from him, would have been a waste of time and left him even more tainted with the mud of failure.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Budget, Congress, deficit, Democrats, Economy, Obama, Political Economy, Republicans and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Since when do presidents lead congressional committee debates?

  1. Ken Ciszewski says:

    Congress voted to create this committee as part of previous legislation to fix the recent debt ceiling issue. The President signed it into law, so he did his part to support it. Now, it was up to committee members to do something useful. Of course, as long as they take pity on the rich, who obviously aren’t happy because they don’t have enough money–they want ALL the money, it’s in their nature (they’re “empire builders”. Today, money is the ultimate empire). It will take something dramatic to fix this.

    There are still those who complain that the pervious stimulus did’t do any good, and that bailing out banks and other companies didn’t really help, and thus was a bad idea. They’re not correct–all the government help did prevent a much worse economic disaster.

    But to look at this from a particularly gruesome perspective, in a way, it’s unfortunate that a greater economic disaster didn’t occur. If it had, and instead of 9% unemployment we had 40-50%, and we had massive bank failures and economic collapse, there we be none of this bickering over giving the rich more money. The Bush tax cuts would have been allowed to expire, and Obama and teh Democrats could have gotten anything they wanted by simply appealing to those who would be ready to demonstrate and, if necessary riot (Occupy Wall Street would look like a church picnic in comparison)–all the disaffected, unemployed, and those who lost all their savings.

    In general, it takes a serious, serious crisis to get people’e attention so things can actually be changed. We saved the economy, but lost an opportunity to fix much bigger issues.

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