There’s No Deal to Be Made With Absolutist Tea Party Republicans

Interesting turnabout by Ezra Klein over the last few days.  On Friday he documented how little some GOP Congressmen know about what Obama has been offering towards averting the sequester, and wondered if better communication might go a long way towards solving some of the problems we’ve been wrestling with.  Others (e.g., Jonathan Chait) said (and I’m paraphrasing very loosely), “Nope.  They’ll just find some other reason to oppose a deal.”

Then Klein had an experience that convinced him that Chait is right.  Ezra gives us the discouraging play-by-play here (“This is why Obama can’t make a deal with Republicans“).  Long story short, every time a demand was shown to have been met, the GOP player in question moved the goal line, raising some new objection.  Just as Chait had predicted.  Read the details in Ezra’s post, but here’s his bottom line (emphasis added):

…it’s unpopular for Republicans to simply say they won’t agree to any compromise and there’s no deal to be had — particularly since taxing the wealthy is more popular than cutting entitlements, and so their position is less popular than Obama’s. That’s made it important for Republicans to prove that it’s the president who is somehow holding up a deal.

This had led to a lot of Republicans fanning out to explain what the president should be offering if he was serious about making a deal. Then, when it turns out that the president did offer those items, there’s more furious hand-waving about how no, actually, this is what the president needs to offer to make a deal. Then, when it turns out he’s offered most of that, too, the hand-waving stops and the truth comes out: Republicans won’t make a deal that includes further taxes, they just want to get the White House to implement their agenda in return for nothing. Luckily for them, most of the time, the conversation doesn’t get that far, and the initial comments that the president needs to “get serious” on entitlements is met with sage nods.

… There’s no deal even if Obama agrees to major Republican demands on entitlements. There’s no deal because Republicans don’t want to make a deal that includes taxes, no matter what they get in return for it.

The interesting question is whether the possibility of a government shutdown, a debt-ceiling breach or simply the pressure of the sequester’s cuts will, in the coming months, break one side or the other. But as long as the GOP’s position is they won’t compromise, there’s not going to be a compromise.

Meanwhile, we’re in to the sequester’s cuts, whose pain will be felt most by (surprise!) those who can least bear the pain.

And once again I have to ask, what level of indecency will it take to get decent people to turn their backs on the GOP?