As the debt ceiling debate rages in Washington, D.C., the possibility of an agreement not being reached by the August 2 deadline becomes more and more real. But what if that happens — does anyone benefit politically?
MSNBC host Cenk Uygur asked MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan about that possibility — in that it takes some of the power of Congress to appropriate away and would give President Barack Obama a de facto line-time veto. Should the government shut down, with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, would a shutdown give Obama the power to pick and choose his own priorities?
“Pat, look, you say the Republicans have the advantage,” Uygur said. “[Y]ou say Republicans have the advantage. But what if we don’t raise the debt ceiling but don’t go into default? Money comes into the Treasury all the time. We use it to pay our debt so there is no default. And then the president says, ‘OK, I have the biggest line-item veto in the history of mankind. I will only fund programs you are in favor of. You Republicans get nothing from now on.’ Then who’s got the advantage?”
Obama wouldn’t be able pick and choose “Republican programs” because he argued the bulk of government comes from social programs, Buchanan said.
“Well, you’re telling me that President of the United States — look, if the President of the United States — you’re right, the President of the United States would have to start chopping spending and programs like that. What are the big ones? They are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and the two wars.”
That led to this exchange between liberal radio host Bill Press and Buchanan. Press asserted that Obama isn’t afraid to take on the GOP and Congress should there be an agreement that he doesn’t like. Buchanan doubts Obama’s willingness to follow through on Press’ claim:
PRESS: We know, we know Pat — Pat, we know the president’s got the last word. The president has the advantage. He showed it yesterday. He is not going to accept a deal that doesn’t include some revenue expense.
UYGUR: Bill, we have to leave it there.
BUCHANAN: He doesn’t have the cajones and you know it.
PRESS: You watch, Pat. He will shut down the government if necessary. The Republicans will get blamed for it just like Newt Gingrich got blamed for it.