So the news on the debt ceiling talks is filled with two issues today, one is suddenly defense spending was put on the table by Republicans.
As President Obama prepares to meet Monday with Senate leaders to try to restart talks about the swollen national debt, some Republicans see a potential path to compromise: significant cuts in military spending.
Senior GOP lawmakers and leadership aides said it would be far easier to build support for a debt-reduction package that cuts the Pentagon budget — a key Democratic demand — than one that raises revenue by tinkering with the tax code. Last week, Republicans walked out of talks led by Vice President Biden, insisting that the White House take tax increases off the table.
In listening sessions with their rank and file, House Republican leaders said they have found a surprising willingness to consider defense cuts that would have been unthinkable five years ago, when they last controlled the House. While the sessions have sparked heated debate on many issues, Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.), the deputy GOP whip, said there are few lawmakers left who view the Pentagon budget as sacrosanct.
The second bit of news is that Mitch McConnell has declared that there will be no new taxes included in budget talks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday renewed his call to take tax increases off the table in the debt-limit talks between congressional leaders and the Obama administration.
Republicans “want to finally get our economy growing again at a pace that will lead to significant job growth,” McConnell wrote in an op-ed published on CNN.com, hours before he is to huddle with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House to discuss the debt ceiling.
First of all, you can't have negotiations between two party's if the one, the GOP refuses to include tax increases of any kind in the mix. That's not negotiating, that's hostage taking. I don't believe for a second any proposed cuts to military spending will be anything more than some paper clips and staplers in the Pentagon, but it does make for some juicy talking points they can use on TV. See, we're willing to cut Defense, but Democrats won't cut medicare and Social Security. We're serious, they're not. Conservatives understand that the beltway bipartisan fetish is always running high in DC and they will help them make the case that this is a significant shift for the GOP.
As talking points go, Atrios says:
I give it about 2 days before Republicans start screeching about how Democrats want to cut defense money while our heroes are in harms way, blah blah blah
Now the WH is already cutting like crazy, but Eric Cantor wants more.
The White House has offered nearly $1 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies over the next decade and $300 billion more from security agencies. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pressed for as much as $1.7 trillion in cuts. And he wanted an overall cap on spending that would leave the door open to slashing the entire sum from domestic programs — such as education, food safety, health research and criminal justice — when lawmakers draft spending bills next spring.
“Everything is on the table,” Cantor said in an interview afterward. But the decision on how much to cut defense “belongs in the appropriations process.”
White House budget director Jack Lew objected, and the meeting grew heated. Democrats said they could never support a package that targets only social programs and extracts no pain from the military, big business or the wealthy.
Every "cut" is on the table, but not revenue increasers. This is all kabuki and the debt ceiling isn't the same type of game they played with as shutting down our own government was. But if Democrats use meaningless military cuts to justify massive cuts in education, food safety, health research and criminal justice as some kumbaya moment, then this will be not a deal, but a ritual sacrifice.
Seriously, the defense budget is a very logical place to look for savings. It's been off limits to any kind of serious oversight for decades, particularly the one just past. I have no doubt that significant savings can be found there. If they can come up with some cuts in obsolete programs that don't hurt any of their prized constituencies and donors too badly, a deal could potentially be made that would give President Obama an argument to take to his base as his liberal accomplishment in this "deal".
But keep in mind that when they make the argument that we can't raise taxes because the economy is too fragile, the economic logic of that is the same as cutting spending. So it isn't about the economy --- it's about shrinking government. No matter how worthy a goal cutting the Pentagon is on the merits, it's not a liberal economic policy. In fact, none of this is an economic policy at all --- it's a ritual sacrifice.
We've feared for a long time that Medicaid is something that might end up on the chopping block to help complete some Grand Bargain which would excite the Villagers for sure. Progressives been warning our readers about this for a long time. mcjoan writes: White House Medicaid proposal would likely force states to cut aid
Drew Westin tries to explain to the Democrats how they can win in 2012: Three Ways Democrats Could Choose to Lose in 2012, and What They Can Do to Avoid It
"If Democrats think that the average senior who votes will be able to distinguish competing claims about which party's Medicare cuts will cut them the deepest, they are deeply mistaken. We will end up with a he-said/she-said about which party "really" cares about grandma's health, and the media will offer voters guidance such as, "Democrats say their cuts will have less impact on seniors, whereas Republicans say their plan will give seniors more choices."
Andrea Mitchell was talking to Cillizza today at the end of her show and mentioned that if Republicans won't raise taxes then how can they really negotiate? Chris agreed. I found that interesting because maybe in some tiny way a piece of truth is slipping through the DC wall because the never raising taxes mantra has been considered a principled position by Republicans when in reality it's all about making the rich, richer off the backs of the working class.