Yesterday House Republican leaders met with President Obama at the White House to begin discussing a deal on raising the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown. The initial proposal by Speaker Boehner to grant a six-week extension on US borrowing authority was rejected by Obama. Apparently the ‘Grand Bargain’ is back.

President Obama and House Republicans failed to reach agreement on a six-week extension of the nation’s borrowing authority during a meeting Thursday at the White House, but the two sides kept talking, and the offer from politically besieged Republicans was seen as an initial step toward ending the budget standoff…

People familiar with the meeting said that Mr. Obama pressed Republicans to reopen the government, and that Republicans raised the possibility that financing could be restored by early next week if terms for broad budget negotiations could be reached.

So Social Security and Medicare return to the chopping block. It would be insane for the Republicans to assume they can get those cuts now with any other Democratic president but President Obama has been eager for a ‘Grand Bargain’ for some time so the House GOP may yet be rewarded for shutting down the government and playing chicken with debt default.

The de facto president also weighed in.

Mr. Ryan said before the White House meeting that Republicans were now willing to formally negotiate with Senate Democrats over a long-term, comprehensive budget framework. The Republicans have resisted such a move since April, fearing that it would require compromises, like raising additional tax revenues, that would enrage the party’s conservative base heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

So the Republicans are polling at 24 percent approval and they still get to set the terms of the debate? In fact, they may even get a ‘Grand Bargain’ to take the shears to the safety net once again. The Democrats may be winning the PR battle but they are losing on substance.