There are rumors percolating on the street that the zombie Grand Bargain has returned to the forefront for Rep. John Boehner and the White House.
House Republicans tell me Speaker John Boehner wants to craft a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.
The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.
“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”
Beyond Boehner’s office, the leadership is sending out a similar message through its emissaries. The House GOP’s most influential fiscal strategists, Dave Camp and Paul Ryan, are privately reassuring nervous Republicans that the federal shutdown may be painful in the short term, but a budget deal is in the works — and they should be enthused about what they’re cooking up.
“Ryan is selling this to everybody; he’s getting back to his sweet spot,” says a second House Republican who’s close with Ryan. “He and Camp are going to be Boehner’s guys. That’s why Boehner put them on the CR conference committee; he knows these guys are going to be his point men.”
Per sources, entitlement reforms, such as chained CPI, an elimination of the medical-device tax, and delays to parts of Obamacare are all on the table as trades for delaying aspects of sequestration and extending the debt limit. Camp, especially, is pushing to have a tax-reform framework included.
If President Obama and the Democrats agree to any kind of deal like this then they have succumbed to the Tea Party's insane demands and given them and John Boehner much more than they ever could have hoped for.
The WSJ reports that centrist R's are trying to push towards a clean CR and the GOP's positioning is weakening which is a reason why Boehner is broaching the zombie bargain again. Zombies keep coming back from the dead, and the Grand Bargain is a particularly nasty zombie freak. If they actually pass something along those lines, you know the Beltway media will go gaga for this bipartisan agreement and everyone will be hailed as heroes --even the Tea Party fanatics.
It's very hard to know exactly what this means, but whatever it is if it includes the Chained-CPI, it's bad.
Keep in mind that the president said this just two weeks ago:
If we wanna do more deficit reduction, I’ve already– put out a budget that says, “Let’s do it.” I’m willing to reform entitlements. I’m willing to– you know, cut out additional waste that may be there. And I’m spending time, even without pressure from Congress, trying to figure out how we can cut out waste in the system.
He did say that he thought there should be some corporate taxes too. But I'm hearing that Democrats would be willing to deal if they can reverse some of the sequester cuts. No mention of tax hikes --- which would be the one poison pill that would kill the Grand Bargain for the Republicans (again.)
If they do this I'm sure everyone will be lauded as grown-ups. So there's that.
Update: More from Politico
Most House Republicans privately concede they’re fighting a battle they’re unlikely to win, and to avoid a prolonged shutdown and a disastrous debt default, Washington has to create a package so big that lifting the borrowing limit and funding the government is merely a sideshow.
“I want to get a budget agreement,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told POLITICO on Wednesday. “That’s what we’ve been about all along. So yeah, we think the issues are converging — [the continuing resolution] and debt limit — and from the get-go, we wanted to get a budget agreement to grow this economy and get this debt under control, especially before the Federal Reserve starts raising interest rates. I think it’s in our nation’s interest to do that. And that’s one of the things we’re fighting for in addition to relief from Obamacare — or fairness from Obamacare.”
White House officials remain deeply skeptical that a grand bargain can be reached as long as Republicans refuse to raise tax revenue. But there are fresh signs Republicans would consider new revenue if they are not raising tax rates, and key Republicans told POLITICO that they would be interested in some of the items discussed by Boehner and Obama in 2011.
The collision of a number of factors has sparked renewed talk of a grand bargain.
So with government shut down and the debt ceiling rapidly approaching in the next two weeks a large number of Republicans see a grand deficit compromise as the only plausible way out.