Friday, July 29, 2011

President Obama Urges Americans To Pressure Congress To Resolve Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Exactly three months before the default deadline, bipartisanship was on full display at the White House...
President Obama made remarks this morning on the "increasingly urgent" status of the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, which after weeks of wrangling have now entered the 11th hour. It's a curious coincidence that the default deadline of August 2nd is exactly three months to the day after the President and First Lady Obama hosted a bipartisan dinner for Congressional leaders at the White House on May 2nd. The guests seated with the President at the big East Room event, which also included Cabinet Secretaries and senior White House officials, were the major players in the debt drama: From left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH); Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

During brief remarks at the dinner, the President made a prophetic statement:

"Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future," he said.

This morning, the President pointed out that "there are multiple ways to resolve this problem," but it requires the kind of bipartisan goodwill that seemed to be on display at the dinner. He noted that House Republicans are wasting time trying to pass a bill "that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have already said they won’t vote for."

But there's more than one way to make a debt souffle, the President pointed out--or as he put it, "there are plenty of ways out of this mess."

"Senator Reid, a Democrat, has introduced a plan in the Senate that contains cuts agreed upon by both parties," President Obama said. "Senator McConnell, a Republican, offered a solution that could get us through this."

The human-made crisis, the President said, can rapidly be ended:

"Today I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support -- that can get support from both parties in the House –- a plan that I can sign by Tuesday."

On Monday night, during a nationally televised press conference, the President urged Americans to put pressure on Members of Congress to act responsibly, and he repeated the call again today.

"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," President Obama said. "Make a phone call. Send an email. Tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this."

Shortly after this morning's remarks, the President tweeted on his @BarackObama account:  "The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. —BO"

White House staffers then began to Tweet the names of GOP lawmakers for citizens to tweet their complaints to. 

UPDATE, 8:00 PM:  The President's Twitter account had lost 40,000 followers by late in the afternoon, according to NY Daily News.  Followers were infuriated by what they regarded as spam, though many others followed the President's command, and flooded Republican Twitter accounts with pleas for #compromise.  Mediaite estimated the loss of followers at about 10,000.  The President still had 9,362,880 followers at 7:30 PM Friday night.

The President's statement:

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House

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