THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE OBVIOUSLY HAS DEMOCRATS CONFUSED WITH REPUBLICANS
I know that Fox Nation is asserting that President Obama plans to withhold Social Security checks deliberately and willfully in the event of a debt ceiling default, presumably for political reasons, but I assumed that was just an attempt to distort the words of Obama's warning to gull the rubes. Now, however, it appears that fellow Murdochians at the Wall Street Journal editorial page believe not merely that the warning was a strategic move, but that withholding the checks would be a strategic move -- and probably a successful one:
We agree with those who say that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can cut other federal spending before he allows a technical default on U.S. debt. No doubt that is what he will do. We'd even support a showdown over technical default if we thought it might yield some major government reforms. But Mr. Obama clearly has no such intention.
Instead he and Mr. Geithner will gradually shut down government services, the more painful the better. The polls that now find that voters oppose a debt-limit increase will turn on a dime when Americans start learning that they won't get Social Security checks. Republicans will then run like they're fleeing the Pamplona bulls, and chaotic retreats are the ugliest kind. By then they might end up having to vote for a debt-limit increase and a tax increase.
Really? This is what these guys really believe -- that Social Security checks won't go out, and voters will blame the Republicans?
Maybe you believe that. Maybe a lot of people do. I don't believe it. I believe voters will blame the president and Congress -- all of them, across the board, but no one more than the guy at the head of the government. They certainly won't exempt him from blame. So while Obama's decision to warn of the prospect may turn the public in favor of a deal in general, and doing so at a moment when he seems willing to negotiate (and to have a negotiating position that jibes much more with what the public wants) may be good for him and Democrats politically now, if there actually is a default and it causes pain, everything will change -- and it certainly isn't going to change in Obama's favor if (a) he's seen as the guy sending out the checks (which he is) and (b) the right-wing media successfully sells the notion that he's chosen to withhold Social Security checks over other possible cutbacks (and I think the media righties would be successful at that).
Am I misreading things here? I just think a Democratic president can't benefit politically from a crisis in this way. It's like 9/11 -- it made George W. Bush's poll numbers skyrocket, but it would have been Al Gore's fault.
SEE ALSO: This, from the Journal's James Taranto: "Raise Taxes or Granny Gets It: The Liberal Media's Idea of a Grown-Up" ("The kids are acting up, so he threatens to starve Granny to death"). They really do drink their own Kool-Aid.