Speaker John Boehner sang a different tune. No revenue increases, no how, no way was his answer. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took the same line. Never mind that both men had been urging the White House to adopt chained CPI for a couple of years. The GOP commitment to preserving preferential tax rates for the Mitt Romneys and Koch brothers of the nation has achieved the status of an absolute.
It probably didn’t matter, but it certainly didn’t help that the White House sent out various emissaries hinting that it was all a big head-fake anyway.
“Administration officials spent most of Wednesday insisting that chained CPI was the Republicans’ idea, not Obama’s,” Politico reported “and that he’d only agree to it if it had these protections and was included in a broader deficit reduction package. ‘The offer that is there for Speaker [John Boehner] is not an a la carte menu,’ National Economic Council director Gene Sperling told reporters.”
Writing in his Washington Post “Wonkblog,” boy pundit Ezra Klein explained that the purpose of the White House budget was to expose GOP hypocrisy. “As the White House sees it, there are two possible outcomes to this budget. One is that it actually leads to a grand bargain, either now or in a couple of months. Another is that it proves to the press and the public that Republican intransigence is what’s standing in the way of a grand bargain.”
That similar mixed motives have been part of every legislative proposal since the dawn of democracy might have made this unnecessary to say. But like a child riding a unicycle, this White House can’t seem to quit advertising its own cleverness. Besides, anybody who doesn’t get it by now probably can’t.
Most Democrats I know tend to agree with former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich. “The only thing the president has accomplished by putting Social Security on the chopping block is to make it more vulnerable to future cuts, and to dampen the enthusiasm of Democrats and many independents for the midterm elections of 2014.”
Once again, President Obama appears to be negotiating with himself—like a guy playing a game of seven-card stud in which his hole cards, but nobody else’s, are revealed.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Copyright 2013 The National Memo