U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner criticized President Obama on Friday for his unwillingness to negotiate with Republicans over increasing the nation’s debt limit.
In a tweet on Friday afternoon, the Colorado Republican drew parallels between the looming budget battle and White House’s efforts to smooth relations with Iran.
“@BarackObama says he won’t negotiate w/ Republicans, whom his staff compares to terrorists. He is now negotiating w/ actual terrorists,” he tweeted.
The president and his aides maintain that when it comes to raising the government’s borrowing authority and meeting its debt obligations, there’s no bargaining. To conservatives wishing to undo the 3-year-old health care law in exchange for an increase in the nation’s credit, Obama on Friday said bluntly: “That’s not going to happen.”
“I don’t know how I can be more clear about this: Nobody gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States just to extract political concessions,” Obama said in a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room.
Still, House Speaker John Boehner says a debt hike must be linked to budget cuts and other programmatic changes.
“The president says, ‘I’m not going to negotiate,’ ” Boehner said. “Well, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way.”
Gardner’s spokesman, Alex Sicilliano, said in an email that Gardner posted the tweet after Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on CNN that the White House wasn’t going to negotiate with “people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” in reference to debt limit discussions. Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the phone Friday. The U.S. State Department has listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984.
“We are simply making the point that President Obama has said that he will not negotiate with Republicans, and yet he is willing to negotiate with Russia and Iran,” Siciliano said in an email. “I don’t think anyone would call that leadership.”
Obama’s stance is rooted in experience, politics and a desire to protect himself from similar demands in the remaining three years of his presidency.
Obama advisers note that past negotiations have not yielded grand bargains, and that the mere threat of default in 2011 rattled the economy, causing a downgrade in U.S. credit. Talks earlier this year to avoid automatic spending cuts known as sequestration also failed.
Obama aides also note that Boehner himself eight months ago declared an end to negotiations with Obama, favoring the regular legislative process instead.
That process has proved messy for the GOP, and senior White House aides insist that in a standoff, Republicans will be perceived as the unreasonable party. And the White House is convinced any concession would place the president in the position of having to bargain again and again when the next debt ceiling looms.
“I’m not going to start setting a precedent, not just for me, but for future presidents, where one chamber in Congress can basically say each time there needs to be a vote to make sure Treasury pays its bills, we’re not going to sign it unless our particular hobby horse gets advanced,” Obama said Friday.