I find all this shit enormously annoying, because the Republicans never, ever negotiate in good faith — and the Democrats don’t really tell the truth. Wheee!
The problem is, unlike the Democrats’ calls for higher taxes on rich Americans, the GOP’s preferred Medicare cuts are deeply unpopular. So they’re trying to cow Democrats into proposing these cuts first — to effectively author both sides of the proposal — and provide them political cover.
“We’ve come down with ours. We’re still waiting for theirs. That’s the status of the negotiations,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Capitol Thursday, laughing off the GOP’s demand.
Though the expiration of the Bush tax cuts provides Democrats enough leverage to ignore the GOP’s demand for Medicare cuts altogether, conversations with Senate Democratic aides reveal Democrats will accede to some modest spending reductions up front, so that Republicans will agree to simultaneously increase the debt ceiling and avoid another economically damaging standoff early next year.
Complicating matters for the GOP is the paradox that it’s easier, both politically and legislatively, to realize savings in Medicare by making the program more robust. Democrats are prepared push those sorts of reforms in 2013 when the two sides set about seeking a broader package of entitlement and tax reforms. In contrast, the Republican aim in these budget negotiations is to forge ahead with proposals designed to weaken the program, not to reduce spending on Medicare per se.