Reading the papers this morning, one would think that the debt-ceiling talks have gone from contemplating a broad bipartisan compromise to settling for a narrow and mostly lost opportunity. It seems Republican intransigence on has cost us all a shot at huge “grand bargain” budget deal.
But is that what has happened? Looking at the details of the big and small (to the extent that the reports of those details are accurate of course), suggests to me a rather different turn of events over the past week. President Obama offered Speaker Boehner the president’s own budget outline and called it a compromise. Republicans were asked to stomach not only a huge tax increase but also the Democratic approach to health-care and entitlement reform in return for President Obama’s approach to cutting spending. Democrats were asked to stomach only what President Obama already proposed in his own name earlier this year. This was basically a compromise between the Obama and Pelosi approaches to budget policy, not the Obama and Boehner approaches. The Speaker has instead opted to seek middle ground between the Republicans’ budget outline and the president’s. If nothing else, that certainly sounds more like an actual compromise....
In effect, Republicans are being asked to accept several of the policies their budget took to be counterproductive (like reinforcing the fee-for-service model of health-care entitlements and increasing the tax burden on a struggling economy), to abide the implementation of Obamacare (which would be taken for granted and untouched in what purports to be a major long-term budget deal), and to settle for the Democratic version of tax reform and discretionary cuts. The Democrats, meanwhile, are being asked to settle for Obama’s budget and would be made to accept none of what they take to be counterproductive Republican proposals. Sounds like a great bi-partisan deal, doesn’t it?
Whole thing here.