So, according to Brian Beutler, the Republicans are balking at having a conference to iron out the differences between the Senate and House budgets. This is hypocritical in the extreme,obviously, since they’ve been braying about the Democratic senate failing to produce a budget for years and now that they have one, they don’t want one. But there’s a reason for it:
To explain the about-face, consider what happens if conferees begin meeting and negotiating right away. In this phase of regular order, leadership has less control over the course of events, and pretty much everything is majority rule. Democratic negotiators will be able to relitigate the fight they won in the election. They’ll agree to entitlement spending cuts. They might even reluctantly embrace a provision in President Obama’s budget — chained CPI — that would among other things slow the growth of Social Security benefits. But only if Republicans agree to ditch the anti-tax absolutism.
Republicans would thus be forced to choose between agreeing to new taxes and triggering a huge conservative revolt; or exacerbating the public’s sense that their party is pathologically unable to compromise.
Democrats are privately pleased to find Republicans back in a box. But in public they’re pressing and taunting Republicans to back up words with action.
It’s nice to know they’re already planning on agreeing to entitlement cuts and “reluctantly” accepting the Chained-CPI. Particularly since they weren’t even included in the Senate bill or the progressive plan. But hey, it will be so worth it if only we can show that the Democrats are the adults in the room which is really all that matters:
The GOP could avoid that headache by pulling the plug on the budget debate altogether. But that will reinforce a growing sense among elite opinion makers that Republicans the obstacle to a budget deal that puts the era of fiscal brinksmanship behind us.
If that’s what they’re after, I have to wonder why they just don’t pass the Ryan budget. The elite opinion makers would hail it as a bipartisan breakthrough of epic proportions. Of course, a few more wily “negotiations” like these and we’ll be there anyway, so maybe it’s just another part of their cunning plan.
Update: And about that “fix” the Democrats insist will keep this harmless accounting adjustment that better reflects the real cost of living from devastating people who don’t have a lot of money: