The morning after House Republican leaders delayed a vote on Speaker John Boehner's debt-ceiling bill due to a lack of support, President Barack Obama delivered a statement on Friday, pushing Congress to craft a bill that actually stands a chance of becoming law.
"Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan," said Obama, speaking from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room. "It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people — not just one faction."
While stressing that we're almost out of time, in the face of next Tuesday's deadline, the president claimed that resolving the problem isn't actually that hard.
"This is not a situation where the two parties are miles apart," he said, referring to the bills offered by Boehner and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, which at this point both tilt heavily to the right, with rough similarities in federal spending cuts.
"We can end it with a simple vote, a vote that Democrats and Republicans have been taking for decades," Obama continued, dropping a bit of Debt Ceiling 101 by contesting myths about what raising the debt limit actually means. "It's not a vote that allows Congress to spend more money. Raising the debt ceiling simply gives our country the ability to pay bills that Congress has already racked up."
Although Obama said that he was confident that both parties in Congress will be able to reach a compromise, he's less confident in their ability to do their jobs without masses of people lighting the fire underneath them.
"On Monday night, I asked the American people to make their voice heard in this debate, and the response was overwhelming," he said of the flood of calls and emails to House representatives that temporarily shut down some email servers. "So please, to all the American people, keep it up. If you want to see a bipartisan compromise — a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign — let your members of Congress know. Make a phone call. Send an email. Tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this."
Coming after a series of frustrated press conferences and speeches about the gridlocked status of debt-ceiling talks, on Friday the president had an oddly hopefully outlook. I'm not quite convinced by his outward cool and optimism. With enough lawmakers in the House GOP caucus who view compromise as weakness — not to mention the persistent fiction-peddling that failing to raise the debt ceiling is no big deal — I don't see a last-minute turnaround in the next few days. But with this weekend being the last chance to prevent the country from default, hopefully the government proves me wrong.
In other news: Debt-Limit House Vote Postponed.