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The art of the empty promise

by Greg Belfrage

The war of words in Washington is escalating.  The partial government shutdown is now entering its second week and shows no signs of ending soon. 

Focus is now beginning to shift to the bigger fight over raising the country's borrowing authority.

Republicans want spending cuts. They're asking for reductions in spending on Social Security and Medicare. They also want a promise from Democrats to reform the tax code.

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been steadfast in their refusal to negotiate unless Republicans pass a clean continuing resolution and raise the debt ceiling.  

A spokesperson for Obama said, "...the President is willing to negotiate with Republicans -- after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed." 

Senator Reid is also refusing to negotiate.  "All we're asking is that government be reopened. Stop threatening a catastrophic default on the nation's bills," Reid said today.

In other words, "Give us what we want and then we'll talk."  These guys are masters of the art of the empty promise.

Only an idiot would accept such a deal.  It would be akin to a salesman saying he won't tell you the price of a car until after you've bought it. Good luck trying to negotiate the price after you've signed the contract.

Yet, that's exactly what the president expects from Republicans.

President Obama has racked up more than $6 trillion in additional debt since he took office. And we're supposed to believe that he plans to negotiate with Republicans to curb spending?  I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night.

Democrats are also resorting to the usual fear tactics in an effort to sway public opinion. The Treasury says the debt ceiling must be raised or it won't be able to pay all the nation's bills.

Don't believe it.  Senator Tom Coburn told CBS This Morning that the claims of default simply aren't true.

"There is no such thing as a debt ceiling in this country because it's never been not increased, and that's why we're $17 trillion in debt and I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast that we'll default. We won't. We'll continue to pay our interest and continue to redeem bonds and we'll issue new bonds to replace those. So it's not entirely accurate. What we need to do is have a discussion," Coburn said.

However, President Obama refuses to have a discussion. As usual, its his way or the highway.

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.