Why Nobody Believes Obama on the Debt Ceiling

President Obama holds a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 14, 2013, in Washington

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Watching the president talk about the debt ceiling and his unwillingness to give up any ransom in exchange for it, I find it impossible not to confront the point that as of now nobody seems to believe him.

And the reason isn’t hard to identify: the fiscal cliff deal. Not because the fiscal cliff deal was a bad deal; I think it was a good deal. But whatever you think of the deal, it wasn’t the deal that Obama said he would agree to. The administration put a lot of emphasis on the $250,000 cutoff point, and the administration also claimed for a while that they wouldn’t agree to a deal that didn’t address the debt ceiling. But when push came to shove, they decided neither of those things were red lines, which is fine. Maybe those were dumb red lines. But they were the lines Obama drew. And then he backed down.

So now there’s a credibility problem.