Most punditry regarding the federal budget standoff misses one fundamental fact


Is there something about budget showdowns that gradually but relentlessly lowers the collective IQ of Beltway pundits? Examples abound. For example, we’ve recently seen a whole spate of folks pretending that all our problems could be solved if only President Obama somehow just unleashed his presidential superpowers and made Congress pass a reasonable long-term deficit plan. Jessica Yellin gave us the nutshell version of this last week when she asked Obama, “Couldn’t you just have them down here and refuse to let them leave the room until you have a deal?”

Then there was Ezra Klein, who surely knows better, suggesting on Friday that perhaps Republicans have stuck to their hardline position so long because they were simply unaware that Obama had offered them much of what they wanted. This was quickly followed up the next day in the face of epic evidence that this rather obviously hasn’t been the roadblock.

Today, we have Doyle McManus of the LA Times, suggesting that the entire crisis is silly because both sides have already agreed on what needs to be done.

This is insanity. Republicans have very decidedly not agreed to any kind of tax reform that raises federal revenues. This is the whole crux of the debate. They have never agreed to anything other than revenue-neutral tax reform.


Obama wants a long-term budget deal that combines spending cuts with tax increases. Republicans, with only a few scattered exceptions, are united on demanding a budget deal that cuts spending but doesn’t include even a dime in higher revenues. That’s it. That’s been their position for at least the past two decades and there’s no evidence at all that it’s going to change anytime soon.