Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Greg Sargent: "Which party is really in a “political hole” on deficit and Medicare?"

Greg Sargent:
My pick for read of the morning is David Rogers’s dissection of the current state of the deficit talks, in particular this analysis of the politics of the situation:

House Republicans have dug a political hole for themselves on the debt issue and their own controversial budget plan to dramatically reshape Medicare.
A deal now that includes substantial Medicare savings — and thereby diffuses that political issue in 2012 — could be a real asset for Boehner. Democrats have put options on the table representing close to $500 billion in 10-year savings from Medicare and Medicaid. This could be dialed up or down depending on Republican willingness to agree to more revenues, and by being so aggressive for “something big,” Obama is trying to make the GOP look small if it walks away.

Obama and Dems appear to be trying to box Boehner in: If he agrees to real revenue increases, Dems will agree to Medicare cuts as a way to allow Boehner to ease the weight of the political problem Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan has created for Republicans. But Boehner has repeatedly insisted he won’t support new revenues, and if he walks away after having been offered substantial Medicare concessions by Dems, the GOP risks looking as if they’re hostage to anti-tax fanaticism, unconcerned about the fate of the country, and are “not fit to govern,” as David Brooks put it yesterday.

But even if the GOP is in a difficult spot, it also needs to be pointed out yet again how much Democrats appear to be on the verge of trading away. If the GOP has dug itself a political hole, Dems appear to be on the verge of cheerfully supplying the dirt Republicans need to fill it.

As it is the debate is unfolding almost entirely on GOP turf, in a place where Republicans are getting far more than anyone thought possible in exchange for a debt ceiling hike that they themselves already agreed months ago was inevitable. Any concessions Dems win from Republicans on new revenues will be dwarfed by what Dems are giving up. And we don’t even know yet precisely what sort of Medicare cuts Dems are offering. If they agree to benefits cuts it could deprive them of some of the political advantage they have carefully built up on the issue in recent months. But it’s looking increasingly like the White House and Dems are willing to trade that advantage away in exchange for a deal and an opportunity for Obama to reap the anticipated political advantages that come with having presided over one. MORE...

Howie P.S.: Feel better now?

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