Huckleberry Graham’s Grown-Up Con

Everybody’s all excited because Huckleberry Graham is being a grown-up:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday urged Mitt Romney to embrace revenues as part of a plan to stave off the automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.

“If he gave his blessing, it would be easier for Republicans,” Graham said of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

In a discussion with reporters, Graham said his Republican colleagues are torn over whether to agree to consider revenues – such as tax loopholes and fees for government services – as part of a deal to avert the spending cuts, called sequestration.

Let’s think about this. They (supposedly) need to find 1.2 trillion in cuts and revenue. And Huck is one of those angling to keep most of the defense cuts off the table. So, he’s out there lobbying his brethren to “close loopholes” and raise “fees” for government services instead. And what about the cuts? Well, it goes without saying that they are written in stone.

There was a time when I would have assumed that this was baked in the cake. It’s the smart move, after all. The Republicans agree to “sacrifice” by backing some meaningless “revenue”, both sides protect their defense contractors and they get to cut a bunch of necessary and important services for average people and pretend like it hurts them more than it hurts us. It’s a beautiful austerity package all dressed up as a “balanced approach.” Why in the world wouldn’t the Republicans eagerly take this deal?

Well, we’ve seen that they are just that obstinate. When offered a Grand Bargain to slash the hell out of everything for very little in return they walked away before so there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again. And perhaps that means they are a little bit smarter than we realize. Having walked away before, the Democrats have no illusions that the GOP will lose their nerve. So, if everyone agrees that the end of the world is nigh if they don’t reach agreement, the Republicans are in a good position to extract every last concession for very little in return.

And since the Democrats have made it clear that the only hill they will die on is the “revenue” hill, the Republicans can probably get away with offering up Huckleberry’s fake “sacrifice” and the Dems will sell it as a win. If the lame duck goes the way it has in the past, we’ll probably see some unemployment insurance and maybe a payroll tax cut thrown in to trap the liberals. ( Who knows? Maybe they’ll throw in some promise to repeal DOMA?) Just keep in mind that the price for those things is likely to be further degradation of the safety net and an immediate contraction of federal dollars at the worst possible time.

So, I don’t care about this chump change he’s talking about and neither should the Democrats. Raising some tip money and promising to close a loophole that will open up the next day somewhere else is not a win. If they do this thing I surely hope they don’t insult us and ask us to clap louder this time. I might have to hurt somebody.

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