It's impossible to take the efforts seriously of negotiating any kind of deficit deal in context between the two parties when one side -- Republicans -- refuses to include the key component of tax increases, which would guarantee raising real revenues for the government in the discussion.
Republican leaders in the Congress said on Wednesday they would not support tax increases as part of a deficit-reduction plan.
Now Republicans compound that problem by not even sending a worthy negotiating team to the table:
The White House's proposed deficit talks with Congress appear to be unraveling before they've even begun.
House and Senate Republican leaders announced Tuesday that their sole appointees to the May 5th meeting would be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)--neither of whom are budget leaders and both of whom function largely as political mouthpieces for their party. GOP leaders also each opted to send only one appointee, instead of the requested four, to the meeting.
The Democrats also sent in their B team to the table, but with Republicans (except, of all people, Tom Coburn) pledging to never increase taxes under any circumstances, it's hard to see the point of this exercise.
You have a government set to steadily increase spending on autopilot as a result of demographic change and rising health care costs. And you have a Democratic President urging congress to enact spending cuts. But you have conservative politicians refusing to make a serious effort to reach an agreement out of some blend of taxophobia and fear of giving the President a win. The result, again, whether the right realizes it or not, is a gift to the wing of the Democratic Party that disagrees with Obama about the desirability of enacting spending cuts.
It's still early in the game, but I'd rather do nothing at this point than give away the store to appease the Beltway media and deficit hawks who are crying for cuts in all our programs that we pay into which are our safety net as we get older. We are entitled to Social Security, we pay for it. And if being serious about the reducing the deficit is what Republicans are all about, then they should come to the table willing to actually make a bargain instead of only caring what Grover Norquist believes.
For a bunch of conservatives who claim to be obsessed with debt reduction, far-right GOP leaders don't seem especially interested in actually working on the issue.
There's probably a good reason for this. As Matt Yglesias noted this morning, we have "conservative politicians refusing to make a serious effort to reach an agreement out of some blend of taxophobia and fear of giving the President a win." That sounds about right.
But whatever the motivation, the notion of Republicans agreeing to any kind of sensible compromise seems remote, if not ridiculous.
Durbin's Gang of Six has no real authority once they come out with their center-right plan, so I see as many Republicans as Democrats voting against their proposal anyway. When Bob Schieffer asks Paul Ryan to justify why he's against raising taxes for the rich to get a deal, you start to see the Beltway at least waking up incrementally.
Schieffer: I guess the question I would have, congressman, why do these rich people need another tax cut? I mean they’re already rich. They seem to be doing pretty well as it is now. Why cut their taxes some more?