To understand why constructive negotiations between the parties have proven to be so very difficult, look no further than this message from one of the Republican Party’s purported “rising stars.”
It’s possible, of course, that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is badly confused – public policy is generally not his strong suit – and doesn’t realize his rhetoric isn’t true. Or maybe he does realize he’s misleading the public and doesn’t care.
Either way, the far-right Floridian has summarized a larger problem in just 135 characters. Rubio wants Americans to believe Republicans didn’t push for chained CPI – which would reduce Social Security benefits – as part of the ongoing fiscal talks. We know this isn’t even close to being true – indeed, by yesterday afternoon, GOP senators had agreed to drop this demand that they’d fought for earlier in the day.
Paul Krugman added that Rubio’s bizarre falsehood is a reminder why it’s “crazy” to think Republicans would ever agree to a sensible Grand Bargain: “You can’t make big deals with a totally untrustworthy negotiating partner.”
Also note what this tells us about the efforts to make bipartisan changes to entitlements. As Ezra Klein explained, “Today’s Republican Party thinks the key problem America faces is out-of-control entitlement spending. But cutting entitlement spending is unpopular and the GOP’s coalition relies heavily on seniors. And so they don’t want to propose entitlement cuts. If possible, they’d even like to attack President Obama for proposing entitlement cuts. But they also want to see entitlements cut and will refuse to solve the fiscal cliff or raise the debt ceiling unless there are entitlement cuts.”
There’s a reason the parties have struggled badly to find consensus, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not because Democrats are unwilling to make concessions.