President Barack Obama says he cannot force Republicans to agree with him by using a Jedi mind meld – but he is trying to paint the party in Congress as the dark side.
Speaking after a short and fruitless meeting at the White House, he said their actions would result in “unnecessary and inexcusable” cuts, and that thousands would lose their jobs and the recovery would be damaged.
Apart from the distress he has caused science fiction fans by apparently confusing Star Wars and Star Trek*, this will leave the Republican leadership fuming and feeling even less like doing a deal.
But the president’s performance was not about winning an agreement but playing the blame game.
A moral mandate?
The automatic and deliberately harsh spending cuts have come because the politicians are so far apart they cannot agree to a sensible way of balancing the books.
Their dispute is simple and as old as the division between left and right.
Mr Obama wants to deal with the deficit, in part, with tax rises (or to be precise, by closing tax loopholes).
The Republican leader, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, insisted leaving the meeting that the president got his “tax hikes” in January, so now it was the time for spending cuts.
Mr Boehner has a point – some Republicans pointed out at the time that they had thrown away their best bargaining chip.
But Mr Boehner’s low-key comments will hardly make headlines. The president’s will.
He claimed that he had won the election on this very argument and even Republican voters said that the rich should pay more.
He said it was time for Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own voters and the American people.
That is not how the American system works. But Mr Obama was as insistent today as he has been ever since 6 November – his election victory gives him a moral mandate and deprives the Republicans of theirs.
He is determined to keep painting them as intransigent, uncaring and out of touch.
BBC has the full article