With the country facing potentially catastrophic economic consequences to our excessive debt if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling and the federal government defaults, we need strong presidential leadership as well as lawmakers more concerned about leadership than the next election.
Sadly, neither side has demonstrated the leadership we need to avoid government default.
Indeed, while President Obama may be holding on to “hope” that he will be able to pressure lawmakers to agree to “the largest possible deal,” it appears increasingly unlikely that the two parties will come together on a parallel process to accept long-term change in budget policy.
So far, such leadership has been fundamentally absent – as the two sides remain at loggerheads over tax increases and cuts to entitlement programs as President Obama’s 36-hour deadline to put forth an acceptable proposal to raise the debt ceiling fast approaches.
The House Republicans have most recently thrown their support behind a "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan in exchange for an increase in the federal debt ceiling that includes no tax increases – notwithstanding the fact that President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have made any spending cuts contingent on the Republicans giving up their opposition to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal to grant president Obama unilateral power to raise the national debt ceiling as a "last-choice option" is essentially a political tactic that enables congressional Republicans to abdicate responsibility for the passage of the debt ceiling increase.
This “last-choice option,” is a plan that – in the words of President Obama -- “avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term, but then wants to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit.”
In April I warned that it would not be enough for Mr. Obama to stand back and hope that the Congressional leadership reaches an agreement, or to jump in at the last minute to try to resolve the situation.
To his credit, Mr. Obama appears to have learned a lesson from the shutdown debacle and has adopted an increasingly centrist pose on budgetary matters -- demonstrating at least a rhetorical commitment to balance revenue increases with entitlement reform.
But it is too little too late.
Neither side has shown leadership, both sides are playing pure partisan politics and the president and both parties’ leadership have abdicated responsibility for reaching a long-term, meaningful, balanced budget deal.
Now, it is time for the parties to heed President Obama’s call for both sides “to do the right thing not for party, but for country "and come together on a parallel process and pass a debt ceiling increase with short term and long term fiscal planning and management for the United States.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins. Arielle Alter Confino contributed to this piece.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel at 7 pm ET. He is the author of 13 books. His latest is "Putin's Master Plan" (Encounter Books, September 27, 2016). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.