Just days after David Brooks signals to the Democrats that they will have the upper hand if they stand their ground in the spending battle, what do Democrats do? They swallow whole almost-literally insane Republican talking points and put the three bedrock elements of the social safety net on the table: Medicare, Medicaid and, yep, Social Security. So let's look at some of what Democrats are saying on this stuff.
First, what Democrats would get in return: Taxes. A big component of what Democrats are negotiating for here is an agreement to let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of next year. From the Times:
One official said some revenue could be generated by allowing Bush-era tax cuts for affluent Americans to expire at the end of 2012, which would produce hundreds of billions of dollars, though those savings would be offset by the costs of retaining lower rates for those below the income threshold.
And from the Washington Post:
While Democrats would be asked to cut social-safety-net programs, Republicans would be asked to raise taxes, perhaps by letting tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest households expire on schedule at the end of next year.
Imagine the following word from that Post writeup screamed at the loudest possible volume: Letting? LETTING? Have the entire Democratic Party and the two most powerful newspapers in the country forgotten how Congress works? Republicans don't have the option of "letting" the Bush tax cuts expire. They've already voted for them to expire. TWICE. It's a done damn deal.
In other words, Democrats are talking about bargaining away elements of the social safety net in return for something that is already going to die unless DEMOCRATS let Republicans get another extension through the Senate and the DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT doesn't veto it!
Then there's this doozy:
“The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain,” said a Democratic official familiar with the discussions.
What the hell? If the pain isn't for the fiscal good, why the hell agree to it at all? This is like a patient hearing that one foot has to be amputated and saying the other foot should come off, too, for balance. Oh, and by the way, both feet are perfectly healthy.
And then there's this Beltway BS from the Post piece:
At a meeting with top House and Senate leaders set for Thursday morning, Obama plans to argue that a rare consensus has emerged about the size and scope of the nation’s budget problems...
Did the president not notice that the people asking him questions yesterday via Twitter cared a hell of a lot more about jobs than they did about the deficit? Fix the jobs -- WITH STIMULUS! -- and the budget issues take care of themselves.
Pres. Obama has not only bought into the Republican lie about how to fix the budget crisis, he's bought into the lie that there is a crisis. And if the Clinton-Bush years taught him anything, he should know that if/when a Republican president gets into office, ever dollar allegedly saved by his entitlement cuts will get turned right around into further tax cuts for the rich. And it'll be Obama's fault.
Follow Senior Producer Jonathan Larsen (@jtlarsen) on Twitter