Republicans confused and upset by Obama’s refusal to play the sap in fiscal-cliff talks
Any minute now, Weeper of the House John Boehner (above) will break into tears over President Obama’s insistence on keeping his campaign promises — successful campaign promises, by the way — regarding fiscal policy.
Ezra Klein offers THIS SLANT on the situation:
Republicans are frustrated at the new Obama they’re facing: The Obama who refuses to negotiate with himself.
That’s what you’re really seeing in this “proposal.” Previously, Obama’s pattern had been to offer plans that roughly tracked where he thought the compromise should end up. The White House’s belief was that by being solicitous in their policy proposals, they would win goodwill on the other side, and even if they didn’t, the media would side with them, realizing they’d sought compromise and been rebuffed. They don’t believe that anymore.
Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own. That way, if the White House eventually does give in and agree to some of their demands, Republicans will feel like they got one over on the president. A compromise isn’t measured by what you offer, it’s measured by what the other side feels they made you concede.
Meanwhile, Michael Tomasky offers THIS:
Obama seems to have figured, let’s not start that way. Let’s start with a package that amounts to a vision and makes a statement.
The statement is about putting jobs and growth ahead of deficit reduction; it’s about saying that we believe these are the right ways to stimulate the economy; and it’s about saying that we’re not going to open these negotiations on Republican turf.
That is: If the White House had instead yesterday offered a modest set of specific entitlement cuts and domestic spending cuts, that would have started the negotiations on GOP turf, since those are the two things the GOP wants. This of course is exactly what Obama used to do: As in last year’s debt negotiations, he started by offering the Republicans half a loaf, and the compromise ended up at 75 or 80 percent of the GOP loaf, and Obama looked weak and his voters were terribly dispirited. it took months for him and them to recover.
UPDATE: Ed Kilgore has MORE on this matter of fiscal-cliff negotiations:
[T]here’s another reason other than gamesmanship why Obama should avoid moving in the direction of the GOP until they’ve moved first: Republicans desperately want Democrats to throw them into the briar patch of Medicare cuts that they spent much of the last four years pretending to deplore.
If Obama refuses to put Medicare cuts “on the table,” then Republicans will either have to abandon the Mediscare tactics that are so important to their ability to hang onto their voting base of white seniors, or propose insane cuts elsewhere, or just give in, or just obstruct any deal and let the Bush tax cuts expire (quickly followed by a middle-class tax cut they dare not oppose) along with defense cuts that will freak out their militarist wing. They are indeed deep in a trap of their own design.