The Bachmann Supernova

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 13 2011 12:11 PM

Bachmann: Obama's Holding the Full Faith and Credit "Hostage"

I don't make a habit of recapping every press conference. Reporters shout things. Congressmen dodge things. Cameras go buck wild whenever someone lifts up a piece of paper or bites his/her lip. You know the drill.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.

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I will make an exception and try to describe the scene at the press conference introducing the PROMISES Act, a new attempt by Rep. Steve King, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Louie Gohmert to require payment to military members and veterans to go out even if the debt limit isn't raised. All three of them oppose raising the debt limit; they tried, and failed with, this same gambit during the debate over the continuing resolution that avoided a government shutdown. But why not try it again? This time, one of the sponsors was a presidential candidate, and no fewer than four Washington Post reporters were on sight to record her thoughts. The three members poured on the sentimentality and argued outright that the executive branch was lying about risks.

"You look them in the eye," said King, referring to the troops, "and you see that noble look, and you know they're worried about their family."

"I would encourage the Speaker not to listen to the president anymore," said Gohmert. "Quit believing the president when he uses scare tactics."

When the floor opened up for questions, King cautioned reporters to ask only about the issue at hand. And then Bachmann got a question.

"What we want to do is take the politics out of this issue," she said. "We're in a very serious time in our country. We saw the jobs report that came out on Friday - 9.2 percent unemployment."

She was making a campaign speech.

"On Monday," she said, "I was in Indianola, Iowa, visiting a great company called Stimentech. They had well over 200 employees. Now they've lost over 50 percent of their employees. Why? Because the economy is tanking. This is Washington. We're in a bubble here. I'm spending my time in Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire, where the real world is. The real world is telling all of the politicians, get your act together!"

The members got a question about Mitch McConnell's plan to hand over the plan-making for a debt deal to the president, giving him the authority to raise the limit and Congress a say in vetoing in. King laughed and called it "the fox in the henhouse." Bachmann was up next, saying she was against raising the debt limit at all, and... continued with a speech.

"Eat your peas, he said to small businesses," she said. "I've been on the shop floors of small businesses. I spent the day on a shop floor where it was 90 degrees in the factory for most of the day. Now, I'll tell you one story. I stood at the line when the guys that worked on that shop floor, where they lost 50 percent of their employees, checked out while they were leaving. They had their lunchbuckets in their hands. They were hot and sweaty after a long day of work. One guy came up to me, shook my hand, and said to me, 'As president of the United States, I want you to give this country back to the people.'"

It was Bachmann, at the end of the event, who captured the emerging GOP sentiment best: "President Obama is holding the full, faith and credit of the United States hostage so he can continue his spending spree!" But she did not want to take more questions about the 2012 campaign. As she, King and Gohmert walked away, one reporter yelled, "When are you going to answer questions about your family's counseling center?"

Not today.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.