There’s something strange about the letter 64 senators have written to Barack Obama, requesting that he support comprehensive debt reduction. The language itself is standard enough, writes Ezra Klein in the Washington Post—but why did a powerful bloc of senators write it, rather than the legislation they claim to want? The lawmakers "manage to sound like an interest group begging the White House for support rather than a supermajority of the United States Senate," Klein notes.
They’re calling for "a strong signal of support" from the president. But if they themselves "wanted to write and vote for a bill, that’d be a pretty 'strong signal,'" Klein writes. "For 64 senators to instead write letters about how someone else should be making affirmative noises about deficit reduction, well, read closely, that’s a signal of a very different kind." Sure, Obama could try to rally public support for it, but he can neither write nor pass the bill through Congress. "On this issue, the empowered actor is the legislative branch, not the executive branch. And the legislative branch should begin acting like it."