John Boehner, our new best friend

So contrary to some people’s opinion, even Young Ezra (White House conduit) admits we’re not imagining things. Obama really is trying to give it away — but Boehner won’t take it. Imagine that!

As Greg Sargent notes, just a few months ago, top Republicans were saying that this was, indeed, the exact way to move the country forward. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Wall Street Journal that “higher Medicare premiums for the wealthy, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age and slowing cost-of-living increases for Social Security” were “the kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

A Republican congressional aide told Bloomberg that chained-CPI — which is included in Obama’s budget — was Boehner’s top priority.

“And so we have a moment of clarity in this debate once again,” writes Sargent. “There is literally nothing that Obama can offer Republicans — not even things they themselves have asked for — that would induce them to agree to a compromise on new revenues.”

It would go too far to say Boehner is playing directly into the hands of the White House. But he’s certainly playing directly into the hands of liberals.

There’s a strain of thought in the Republican Party that believes Obama’s public positions are just a ruse and he’s really a hardcore, old-fashioned liberal with no interest in a budget deal and no higher political goal than the absolute destruction of the GOP.

Liberals hold the opposite concern. They worry that Obama’s public positions are just his opening bid, and he’s really a hardcore, ’90s-style DLC Democrat who has no higher political goal than a bipartisan budget deal and would happily sign off on a bill that slashed Medicare and Social Security as long as Republicans would agree to some taxes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, liberals have a better understanding of the White House’s underlying motives than Republicans. But quite surprisingly, Republicans keep saving liberals from their president.
As badly as Obama wants a budget deal, Boehner seems just as determined to keep him from reaching one. For liberals, this is close to an ideal situation. The Republican Party’s brand continues to worsen. The Democratic president manages to look reasonable without ever actually signing a painful compromise into law. And Medicare and Social Security remain safe.

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