OHO Again ! Transparency and the Debt Ceiling

File this under Obama Hypocrisy Observation: Obama promised the most transparent administration in history. Let’s see how that has played out in the debt ceiling negotiations.

None of the negotiating positions have been made public. But there was lots of spin and reporting that Obama was offering significant cuts – trillions of dollars – and the Republicans were holding back on agreeing to smaller tax increases. NY Times columnist David Brooks was convinced that the Republicans were losing an historic opportunity to make “the deal of the century” as Obama was offering 3:1 spending cuts to ‘revenues,’ i.e. tax hikes. I was not convinced as none of the principals would go on the record. All they said was the usual agreeable blather that the talks were making progress.

Now one principal has gone on the record. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the negotiations, specifically the administrations’s positions, were a sham:

“We all saw how it worked,” he said. “The administration leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions in spending cuts.”

But the cuts are largely illusory, McConnell indicated. Obama hoped “the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.”

In truth, the effect would be “at most about a couple billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow.” 

But the tax hikes Obama demanded were real !

According to Charles Krauthammer, Obama’s statements should be viewed as “situational truth. Obama will say what he needs to say at the time he says it to advance a political agenda.”  The Bush administration was not transparent. Bush made decisions without an open airing of views, pro and con. So Obama said, I’m not Bush, I’m going to be transparent, and won. Never mind about following through – ramming through legislation past midnight that no one could read was OK.

The evidence supports Krauthammer’s view. Some of you may remember Jim Geraghty’s list of Obama statements and their expiration dates. It is a very long list. With that sort of record, I expect a lot more OHO moments in the months to come.


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