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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The top players in debt ceiling discussions met at the White House yesterday to try to hash out a deal.

The president stepped into the White House briefing room after the meeting concluded and said the talks were “very constructive” and that “[e]verybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides,” though he also conceded that he and the Republicans are still “still far apart on a wide range of issues.”

We can expect tax talk to continue dominate the dealmaking, as it’s the sticking point here.

Flashback: In 1990, George H.W. Bush and Congress passed a tax-raising deficit reduction deal that, coupled with Bill Clinton’s budgets, laid the groundwork for the economic boom and surpluses of the end of that decade. Consider this statement made by Bush as negotiations heated up in the Democratic-dominated Congress:

It is clear to me that both the size of the deficit problem and the need for a package that can be enacted require all of the following: entitlement and mandatory program reform, tax revenue increases, growth incentives, discretionary spending reductions, orderly reductions in defense expenditures, and budget process reform to assure that any bipartisan agreement is enforceable and that the deficit problem is brought under responsible control. The bipartisan leadership agree with me on these points.

But anti-tax orthodoxy has become even more intense in the Republican Party since then, when only 10 House Republicans sided with their president. Fanatics like Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth are serving to keep the “Big Tent” closed to anyone with a balanced view of how to keep a government running, including the last Republican leader with a legitimate claim to fiscal responsibility.

What’s more, the Republican presidential candidate with the most buzz and excitement–some might call her the frontrunner in first-in-the-nation Iowa, where she was born and raised–released her first TV spot today, flatly opposing any increase in the debt limit.

Watch for Bachmann’s charisma to force some of her primary rivals to join her on the fringe.

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo