The bottom line on American budgetary politics right now is thatMore from Paul Krugman, who rightly points out that Ezra Klein deserves credit for admitting he was wrong and writing about it. Something a lot of his Washington Post colleagues are seemingly incapable of doing. And also this:
Republicans won't agree to further tax increases and so there's no
deal to be had. This is not a controversial perspective in D.C.: It's
what Hill Republicans have told me, it's what the White House has told
me, it what Hill Democrats have told me. The various camps disagree on
whether Republicans are right to refuse a deal that includes further
tax increases, but they all agree that that's the key fact holding up
a compromise to replace the sequester.
But it's unpopular for Republicans to simply say they won't agree to
any compromise and there's no deal to be had — particularly since
taxing the wealthy is more popular than cutting entitlements, and so
their position is less popular than Obama's. That's made it important
for Republicans to prove that it's the president who is somehow
holding up a deal.
This had led to a lot of Republicans fanning out to explain what the
president should be offering if he was serious about making a deal.
Then, when it turns out that the president did offer those items,
there's more furious hand-waving about how no, actually, this is what
the president needs to offer to make a deal. Then, when it turns out
he's offered most of that, too, the hand-waving stops and the truth
comes out: Republicans won't make a deal that includes further taxes,
they just want to get the White House to implement their agenda in
return for nothing. Luckily for them, most of the time, the
conversation doesn't get that far, and the initial comments that the
president needs to "get serious" on entitlements is met with sage
The whole push for a Grand Bargain has been based on the notion that we can reach a fiscal deal that takes the whole fight over the budget off the table. What Klein has belatedly learned is how unlikely such a Bargain really is; but the same logic tells us that any Grand Bargain that might somehow be struck, via Obama’s mystical ability to mind-meld Star Trek and Star Wars or something, wouldn’t last. In a year — or more likely in a minute or two — Republicans would be back, demanding more tax cuts and more cuts in social programs. They just won’t take yes for an answer.
Meanwhile, it’s not just Republicans who refuse to accept it when Obama gives them what they want; the same applies, with even less justification, to centrist pundits. As people like Greg Sargent point out time and again, the centrist ideal — deficit reduction via a mix of revenue increases and benefits cuts — is what Obama is already offering; in fact, his proposals have been to the right of Bowles-Simpson. Yet the centrist pundits keep demanding that Obama offer what he has already offered, and condemn both sides equally (or even place most of the blame on Obama) for the failure to reach a deal. Again, informing them of their error wouldn’t help; their whole shtick is about blaming both sides, and they will always invent some reason why Obama just isn’t doing it right.