Someone’s being played. First the Republicans walked out of the Biden talks. Now Boehner is refusing the President’s more than generous offer to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a larger deal absurdly skewed towards GOP goals. It’s those pesky tax increases, you see. It’s just not enough that the President caved on a clean debt ceiling, caved on having an additional stimulus instead of spending cuts, caved on postponing spending cuts until the economy is well again, caved on at least making spending cuts equal to tax increases, and caved on keeping cuts to Social Security and Medicare out of this.
Mind you, it’s not entirely clear what the Republicans have even agreed to here in terms of any tax increases.
So the GOP walks, and Obama will just have to sweeten the deal to “save the hostages.” Did anyone else see this coming?
It’s nearing time for the President to declare the Republicans not serious, decouple the debt ceiling vote from the deficit talks, and make clear to the markets that the US will continue to honor its debt regardless of whether the GOP holds the world economy hostage.
Obama had proposed to Republicans a “grand bargain” that accomplished a host of individual things that are unpopular on their own, but that just might pass as a huge package jammed through Congress with default looming. Obama offered to put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of roughly $100 billion per year over 10 years. Meanwhile, government spending would be cut by roughly three times that amount. It’s no small irony that the party’s dogmatic opposition to tax increases is costing the GOP its best opportunity to roll back social programs it has long targeted.
Republicans are now banking on a smaller deficit reduction deal that would still make major cuts, somewhere in the range of $2 trillion.
Do you see what Boehner is doing here? He’ll agree to “only” a couple trillion if cuts if the President stops asking for tax increases (or, at the very least, if the President drops any serious tax increase proposals).
Yes, Boehner is facing pressure from the Teabagger caucus. But. He also knows that the President’s goal is to get any deal here, (nearly) regardless of the cost, so Boehner is also playing the President. He’s banking on the President’s now-infamous statement that hostage takers must never be allowed to kill the hostages. He’s hoping the President sweetens the deal even more.
Maybe the President can throw in the repeal of the Civil Rights Act and the 19th Amendment.
PS And don’t discount the possibility that Boehner and Obama are playing all of us here. Obama offers a $4 trillion package that cuts Social Security and Medicare, freaking out Democrats. He offers a deal that raises taxes, freaking out Republicans. Boehner bravely says “you shall not pass,” and both sides are “forced” to consider the “smaller” deal, “only” $2 trillion in cuts, that “spares” Medicare and Social Security and limits tax increases, so the Democratic base and the Teabaggers will sigh with relief at how “good” the $2 trillion package is, when they would have rejected it only a few weeks ago. In other words, Obama was never serious about the Social Security and Medicare cuts, but only offered them to freak us out and make us embrace the Biden deal instead. We may all be being played here.