Bob Woodward on Obama's haphazard way of dealing with the debt limit talks and his concern to get credit for any budget agreement. Congress was upset that Obama had defaulted on a deal at the last moment, and now Obama was upset that he would be left out of the deal.
. . . Boehner said he believed that he and the others — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — had a plan. He told Obama: We think we can work this out. Give us a little more time. We’ll come back to you. We are not going to negotiate this with you.
Obama objected, saying that he couldn’t be left out of the process. . . .
Reid, the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, spoke up. The congressional leaders want to speak privately, he said. Give us some time. . . .
. . . Reid arrived in the Oval Office with his chief of staff, David Krone. . . .
It was highly unusual for someone to pass the ball so completely to a staffer. The 44-year-old Krone outlined the plan, including a secret Republican pledge to count $1 trillion in savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan toward deficit reduction. That was surprising. Earlier, Boehner had not been willing to accept this accounting gimmick.“I don’t trust these guys,” the president said dismissively. Krone either would not or could not conceal his anger. . . .
“Mr. President, I am sorry — with all due respect — that we are in this situation that we’re in, but we got handed this football on Friday night. And I didn’t create this situation. The first thing that baffles me is, from my private-sector experience, the first rule that I’ve always been taught is to have a Plan B. And it is really disheartening that you, that this White House did not have a Plan B.” Several jaws dropped as the Hill staffer blasted the president to his face. . . .
“You can’t veto,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the group. “You cannot be responsible for default.” Anything had to be done to prevent it. Anything to preserve the global economy.“If he caves,” said David Plouffe, Obama’s senior political adviser, “it will have long-lasting political repercussions that we may never get out of. If we draw a line in the sand on something this important and cross it, we may never be able to come back.”Accepting a two-step deal would not work, Plouffe said. “We will not get credit for doing anything. We’ll look like we got bullied by a bunch of very unpopular and irresponsible people.”Geithner had to deal with the possibility that the House bill could reach Obama’s desk. “My recommendation to the president would be, we’ve got to sign this. If that’s what they offer us, we sign it.” . . .
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