What really pisses me off about this is that we simply can’t trust the Democrats not to go along. And if “compromise” on Medicare and Social Security happens, people will be staying home in droves for the next election. Steve Benen:
Look, this is so obvious, it usually goes unsaid, but it’s important to understand. McConnell and other Republicans are eager, practicallydesperate, to make major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — changes that the public won’t like. What the GOP needs more than anything is bipartisan cover. They want Obama to make it so, to use McConnell’s word, this isn’t “usable” in the next election, because if Republicans tried to do this on their own, the electoral consequences would be severe.
That leaves Republican leaders with two choices to get what they want. Option #1: the GOP can agree to some tax increases and Pentagon cuts as part of a grand bargain with Democrats. Option #2: the GOP can threaten to destroy the economy, on purpose, unless Democrats give in to Republican demands on entitlements.
Guess which one the GOP prefers?
Neither McConnell nor Boehner have been willing to speak publicly about exactly what’s on the GOP’s ransom note, but that’s part of the game, too — they’re keeping things vague so they can wait and see how far Democrats will go to fill in the blanks.
With that in mind, the White House is also effectively left with two options. Option #1: tell Republicans there will be no deal and when the economy crashes, it will be their fault. Option #2: tell the GOP negotiations can proceed after Republican leaders start adding details to their own ransom note.
What do Democrats still stand for? Not much, as far as I can tell.