The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenues as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — programs that had been off the table.
The intensifying negotiations between the president and the speaker have Congressional Democrats growing anxious, worried they will be asked to accept a deal that is too heavily tilted toward Republican efforts and produces too little new revenue relative to the magnitude of the cuts.
And we aren't even talking about the Bush tax cuts here. Boehner says those aren't on the table. Neither are any substantial tax increases, the preferred method of a strong majority of the American public when it comes to dealing with the deficit.
Officials said Mr. Boehner suggested that he was open to the possibility of $1 trillion or more in new revenue that would be generated by addressing tax issues already raised in the talks, like killing breaks for the oil and gas industry, eliminating ethanol subsidies and ending preferential treatment for corporate jets.
The public is not going to understand or sit still for long-winded explanations; all they will hear (and Crossroads will make sure of it) is "Democrats cut Medicare and Social Security".
The party won't have a leg to stand on.
To the degree that any deal wins bipartisan support on slowing the growth of Medicare, for example, it would deprive Democrats of what has been one of their most potent arguments heading into 2012: their assertion that Republicans would gut the traditional Medicare system and leave older Americans vulnerable to rapidly rising health care costs.
And, if you continue to reward the hostage-takers, don't be surprised when they keep taking hostages. This will only embolden the Republicans to make further demands when it comes to the budget later in the year - and we can forget about any progress when it comes things like energy or job creation.
Let's wait and see how this shakes out - but there comes a point where it is impossible to defend decisions that are being made to appease the extreme right. It's hurting people, it's hurting the country, and if the Democrats won't stand up to it... tell me, where is the hope for the future?
Update: Ezra is skeptical, and dismisses this as theater - but he is hedging his bet. Hmmm.