I know we all think Ezra Klein is auditioning for David Broder’s job, but David Broder wouldn’t have blamed one side so bluntly:
The bottom line on American budgetary politics right now is that Republicans won’t agree to further tax increases and so there’s no deal to be had. This is not a controversial perspective in D.C.: It’s what Hill Republicans have told me, it’s what the White House has told me, it what Hill Democrats have told me. The various camps disagree on whether Republicans are right to refuse a deal that includes further tax increases, but they all agree that that’s the key fact holding up a compromise to replace the sequester.
But 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.
The whole Bob Woodward spat might have harmed his reputation since he looked like a pissy little crybaby, but in general it was good news for Republicans because it kept the media talking about the dumbest of dumb questions, namely, who thought up the sequester? If the media starts pointing out that the reason we can’t have a sequester deal is that Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on rich folks, then Boehner will feel some heat. Woodward stopped that conversation this week. I wonder what shiny thing will will come up tomorrow.