Following President Obama's Wednesday press conference in which he chided Congress for failing to resolve the default crisis, Fox News immediately began echoing the GOP's bogus attack that the president has been "AWOL" or disengaged from the debate over solving the default crisis. In fact, President Obama has been involved from the beginning and has repeatedly met with members of Congress from both parties to negotiate a solution.
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Boehner: Obama Has Been "AWOL" On "Spending Binge" Debate
Boehner: "The President Has Been AWOL From [The Spending] Debate." A June 29 Politico article quoted House Speaker John Boehner's remarks following President Obama's Wednesday press conference. From Politico:
House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama on Wednesday of being "AWOL" from the spending debate, after Obama charged at a press conference that Congress has been taking time off while he's been hard at work.
"Republicans have been leading and offering solutions to put the brakes on this spending binge," Boehner said in a retaliatory statement. "The President has been AWOL from that debate."
Boehner warned that the House won't pass a bill that raises the debt ceiling and taxes at the same time, saying that "the votes simply aren't there." And he said Obama's remarks "ignore legislative and economic reality, and demonstrate remarkable irony." [Politico, 6/29/11]
Echoing Boehner, Fox News Jumps To Attack Obama For "Not Being Engaged"
Crowley: Obama "Has Been AWOL Essentially For Two-And-A-Half Years." During the June 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley echoed Boehner's "AWOL" claim. From Hannity:
HANNITY: You know, the fascinating thing is, the president, he had a Democratic Congress. He passed his budgets. It is his nearly five trillion in new debt. But then he went on to say no, no, Congress ran up the debt. And then, he just joined the negotiations this week. And now he's saying, well, you know, my daughters whose age he got wrong --
HANNITY: -- his daughters, they don't pull all-nighters. I'm like, where have you been?
CROWLEY: He has been complexly AWOL. In fact, members of his own party have been really agitated by the fact that this guy has been AWOL essentially for two-and-a-half years. As soon as he got elected, he's attitude was basically, my work here is done. That's why he gave the Congress the stimulus to write, that's why he gave the Congress Obamacare to write, that's why he gave Congress Dodd-Frank, the financial regulatory reform. He doesn't get engaged until the last minute. And here we are. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/29/11]
Kilmeade: "You Could Honestly Say" Obama Has "Not Be[en] Engaged." During the June 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said of President Obama:
KILMEADE: I thought it was very interesting that that's the place where he decided to put his stake in the ground and say, essentially, work harder, he's been engaged, when you could honestly say that one of the things he has done and been heavily criticized for is not being engaged. In fact, I have no idea what he wants to do going forward with the budget and the debt ceiling. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/30/11]
Doocy: "You Look At All The Fundraising And All The Golf, You Wonder, 'Has [Obama] Really Been That Engaged?' " Later during the Fox & Friends broadcast, the co-hosts discussed the President's recent activities that were unrelated to negotiations over the default crisis:
CAMEROTA: The president, as you heard him say, I've been here. Now, that was curious to some listeners because he only just got engaged in the process with the debt ceiling working this past week where he met with leaders, and here is what we're looking at right now. He has this year played golf 13 times.
DOOCY: No, he's played golf--
KILMEADE: 13 straight weekends
DOOCY: -- 13 straight weekends. Ok, so how engaged is that?
CAMEROTA: And then he's gone on 33 fundraising trips which are obviously for campaign purposes.
DOOCY: Obviously. Although George Bush at this same point in his presidency had only gone out three times. So 11 times George Bush, plus he met with the WNBA champs as well. One of those things, one of those photo ops that a lot of presidents do, but for him to say, look, I've been working on things here at the White House, and then you look at all the fundraising and all the golf, you wonder, 'has he really been that engaged?' [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/30/11]
But President Obama Has Made Numerous Strides Towards Solving The Debt Crisis
Obama: "I Met With Every Single Caucus...Republican Senators, Democratic Senators; Republican House, Democratic House. ... At A Certain Point, They Need To Do Their Job." During a June 29 press conference, President Obama said:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've got to say, I'm very amused when I start hearing comments about, well, the President needs to show more leadership on this. Let me tell you something. Right after we finished dealing with the government shutdown, averting a government shutdown, I called the leaders here together. I said we've got to get done -- get this done. I put Vice President Biden in charge of a process -- that, by the way, has made real progress -- but these guys have met, worked through all of these issues. I met with every single caucus for an hour to an hour and a half each -- Republican senators, Democratic senators; Republican House, Democratic House. I've met with the leaders multiple times. At a certain point, they need to do their job.
And so, this thing, which is just not on the level, where we have meetings and discussions, and we're working through process, and when they decide they're not happy with the fact that at some point you've got to make a choice, they just all step back and say, well, you know, the President needs to get this done -- they need to do their job.
Now is the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That's why they're called leaders. And I've already shown that I'm willing to make some decisions that are very tough and will give my base of voters further reason to give me a hard time. But it's got to be done.
And so there's no point in procrastinating. There's no point in putting it off. We've got to get this done. And if by the end of this week, we have not seen substantial progress, then I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to start having to cancel things and stay here until we get it done. [The White House, 6/29/11, emphasis added]
Indeed, Obama Has Repeatedly Met With Members Of Congress From Both Parties To Discuss A Solution To The Default Crisis. For example:
- May 11: Washington Post: "Five Democratic Senators to watch in Obama debt meeting." On May 11, the Washington Post reported:
On Wednesday President Obama will begin the first of two days of meeting with Senators, a first public step in what is expected to be a contentious negotiation over increasing the debt ceiling.
Obama meets with Senate Democrats today; on Thursday he will sit down with Senate Republicans. [Washington Post, The Fix, 5/11/11]
- May 12:Roll Call: "Obama Met With Full Senate Republican Conference At The White House" A May 12 Roll Call article reported:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was pleasantly surprised by the candid private meeting Senate Republicans had with President Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling.
Obama met with the full Senate Republican Conference at the White House, one day after a similar get-together between Obama and Senate Democrats. The president is also expected to meet with the House Democratic and GOP Conferences on the budget.
McConnell described the meeting as productive and complimented the president on fostering a candid exchange of views -- a significant takeaway considering that previous such meetings between Obama and Senate Republicans have not gone well.
"I was skeptical as to whether this meeting was worth having," the Kentucky Republican told reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference. "I thought the meeting was really constructive and worth everybody's time. [Roll Call, 5/12/11]
- June 1: Washington Post: "Obama meets GOP lawmakers at White House; no progress on raising debt limit." A June 1 Washington Post article reported:
A Wednesday meeting between President Obama and House Republicans about the nation's debt ended with neither side showing a willingness to give ground on any substantive points or rhetorical differences.
Obama is pressing Republicans to agree to a deal that would raise the federal limit on borrowing and curb the growth of the nation's debt. But in exchange for raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit, Republicans are demanding that the president agree to spending cuts --particularly to Medicare -- far larger than he is prepared to accept.
Obama will send Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with House freshmen, who have been the most reluctant to raise the debt ceiling and the most insistent on sizable spending cuts. Geithner has said that the government could default on its obligations if the limit is not increased. [Washington Post, 6/1/11]
- June 2: Washington Post: "House Democrats talk debt limit, Afghanistan with Obama." From a June 2 Washington Post article:
At a meeting Thursday afternoon, House Democrats and President Obama reemphasized their opposition to House Republicans' 2012 budget blueprint and their call for revenue increases to be included in any longer-term deficit-reduction deal.
The debt-limit debate was the main focus of Thursday's meeting, but U.S. military involvement abroad also came up at the gathering. [Washington Post, 6/2/11]
June 27: Associated Press: "Obama meets with Senate leaders on debt limit." From a June 27 AP article:
President Barack Obama takes over negotiations on spending cuts and raising the government's borrowing limit when he holds separate meetings Monday with Senate leaders. [AP, 6/27/11]