I pretty much don’t buy that fiscal slope talks are “heating up,” but I do know this: the overriding goal of the top levels of the Democratic Party at this point is to ignore their base in service to a deal. I’m not sure it even matters what that deal is, as long as they look more “responsible” than the other side.
Don’t take my word for it, take David Plouffe’s:
“The only way that gets done is for Republicans again to step back and get mercilessly criticized by Grover Norquist and the Right, and it means that Democrats are going to have to do some tough things on spending and entitlements that means that they’ll criticized on by their left,” Plouffe said at his alma mater in conversation with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt.
The senior White House adviser repeated Obama’s opposition to extending the Bush tax cuts on those earning more than $250,000 a year, but expressed openness to a tax reform deal that could potentially lower what the wealthy pay.
“What we also want to do is engage in a process of tax reform that would ultimately produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest,” he said, referring to benefits from corporate tax reform.
Plouffe added that while the White House wants to engage in comprehensive tax reform, they know they must also “carefully” address the “chief drivers of our deficit”: Medicare and Medicaid.
Someone should mention to David Plouffe that “the left” provided much more of the margin of his candidate’s victory in two elections than those chin-scratching independents who he thinks did the job.
At least according to the White House Press Secretary, Social Security is off the table in these discussions. But ignoring the voters who were the majority of those electing you into power most certainly is not:
Durbin said it was not responsible to demand that entitlement reforms be off the table.
“I listened to voices from the left, and many of them say, ‘don’t touch any of the entitlement programs’,” Durbin told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s a responsible approach.”
Somehow, the Democratic majority spent two years putting a health care bill together and they somehow forgot to restrain the growth in health care programs, even though that was the main watchword of the entire policy debate, is that what I’m to believe here? In fact, the Affordable Care Act committed the federal government to $800 billion more spending on Medicaid through 2022, 99% of the total federal-state costs in expansion. I support that as the major driver of coverage expansion in the ACA, and it’s all paid for. But now we’re told it’s completely unsustainable and needs to be dealt with RIGHT NOW, the base be damned.
Fortunately, Republicans aren’t really biting here, regardless of what you’ve heard. They characterized the “Fix the Debt” deal, which is basically Bowles-Simpson – they’ve hired Bowles and Simpson as their spokesman – as “too one-sided” on taxes. This is true even while John Boehner INVITED Erskine Bowles to talk to the House GOP caucus!
I again think gridlock is the best ally of anyone who would rather not see a bad deal on social insurance put together. Clearly Democrats are dying to knife their base. What’s more, gridlock would put Democrats in a better position, particularly on taxes, because of what automatically results after January.