If you've heard bloggers use the term "Grand Bargain" and you don't understand what it means, it refers to the theoretical packaging of a very big deal on third-rail issues that's so unpleasant for both sides, it's in effect a political wash. The idea is, it's reform that doesn't leave either side at a political disadvantage. (Please note that Obama's intentions to do so were known in February 2009.) On our side, Social Security and Medicare cuts; on their side, tax increases.
Anyway, it looks like the Grand Bargain is coming unraveled - but we can't relax just yet since it's been reported that the chained CPI for Social Security benefits is included in Joe Biden's smaller plan, the one to which Republicans have already agreed.
This isn't a victory for eleventy-dimensional chess, because no matter what, we still have a Democratic president offering Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts and validating the right-wing view of the universe, and we're still talking about spending cuts during a prolonged recession -- as if they'll help.
We'll see what the White House is asking Democrats to support as part of the final deal after today's debt ceiling talks. Stay tuned.
House Speaker John A. Boehner abandoned efforts Saturday night to reach a comprehensive debt-reduction deal worth more than $4 trillion in savings, telling President Obama that a midsize package was the only politically possible alternative to avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s mounting national debt.
Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama — who is hosting a key meeting Sunday evening on the debt issue — that their efforts to “go big,” as the speaker says, were stymied by the toughest issues: taxes and entitlements. Democrats continued to insist on tax reforms that would not pass muster in the conservative-dominated House, and Republicans wanted cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security that Obama and Senate Democrats would oppose.
“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase,” Boehner said in a statement released less than 24 hours before the Obama meeting is to take place.