Two data points. 1) Obama loses his cool with House Whip Eric Cantor, says he’s had enough, tells Cantor not to call his bluff, walks out. 2) Quinnipiac releases a poll indicating that by a margin of 48-34, the public will blame Republicans and not Obama if the debt ceiling is not raised. Put them together and you come to point #3: The president thinks this is a fight he can and will win.
I suspect the president’s conduct in yesterday’s meeting was informed either by an early read-out on the Q poll or by private polling showing similar results. In which case, his departure from the meeting wasn’t a fit of weak pique, but rather an improperly understood expression of confidence. Thus, when he told Cantor not to call his bluff, he misspoke. He was warning Cantor not to call Obama’s bet—because Obama believes his hand is the winning hand and if Cantor calls, Cantor will lose.
At some point, those who believe it will be acceptable to go to August 3 without an increase in the debt limit, as well as those who believe the politics favor the Republicans, are going to have to reckon with the fact that there are no data points supporting their beliefs. The way things are going, if August 2 comes and goes without an agreement, there will be a worldwide panic that would have catastrophic immediate consequences in the equity markets. And when Obama says, “I warned and warned and warned and they didn’t listen,” any attempt to offer a counterargument is going to sound very hollow.