Let's remember what they can define as a victory
More blah, blah, blah:
[E]ven if the current talks soon resolve the immediate impasse — that did not look likely on Saturday — any renewal of negotiations for a long-term fiscal plan will run into the same underlying problem that doomed efforts for the past three years:
The president is following through on his promise to cut "entitlements" but only in exchange for some revenue. He promised this throughout the campaign so he hasn't reneged on his campaign promises by doing this. Just as before, the hold up is the Tea Partiers who refuse to even consider the smallest, temporary "revenue." Same as if ever was.
Republicans refuse to raise additional tax revenue, and until they do, Mr. Obama will not support even his own tentative proposals for reducing spending on fast-growing social benefit programs, chiefly Medicare. During a White House meeting with Senate Republicans on Friday, he reiterated that the two go hand in hand, according to people who were there.
“Revenue remains obviously the biggest stumbling block,” said Ed Lorenzen, executive director of the Moment of Truth Project. (The group is led by the chairmen of Mr. Obama’s failed 2010 fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff in President Bill Clinton’s administration, and Alan K. Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader from Wyoming.)
“We’ve been through this fight before,” said Brian Gardner, a senior vice president in Washington for the financial house Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “I’m very skeptical on the grand bargain.”
Yet Speaker John A. Boehner, who only a week ago again ruled out raising taxes, is demanding as part of a short-term deal that he and Mr. Obama return to the bargaining table for a deficit reduction blueprint covering many years and ultimately savings trillions of dollars.
While that prospect has cheered budget watchers in both parties, even they know the discouraging history of such negotiations. In the three years since Republicans won control of the House, there have been five bipartisan efforts to design a long-term debt-reduction plan, two of them between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner. All collapsed.
But it's important for Democrats to recognize that the White House and many Democrats will consider themselves to have won this stand-off if they get the government open, raise the debt ceiling (both of which should be pro forma) and get an agreement to institute the Chained-CPI, cut Medicare and raise some revenue from closing corporate loopholes. That will be a victory. And none of us will in a position to argue because that't what the president ran on when he said every single day on the campaign trail that he wanted "a balanced approach." That's what we voted for.
Now it's entirely possible that just as the GOP has held this agreement off for three years now, they will refuse to do anything that can be called a tax hike so the "entitlement" portion of our program will once again be kicked down the road. But we'd better hope the president doesn't decide he has to give up his bogus revenue demand for the greater good --- like lifting sequester cuts, which the Dems have added to the demand list in the Senate. (Or that both sides sit down and figure out a way to finesse a phony revenue hike that appeases the Tea Partiers.)
But hey, maybe at the end of the day these Tea Partiers will be content to settle for something like cutting the medical device tax and then call it a day. Here's hoping ...
It appears the GOP is very rattled. Which is good. Maybe we'll get out of this mess without losing something. Fingers crossed.
Update: This from Sam Stein covers where we stand in the Senate at the moment. The terrain has shifted in favor of the Democrats:
As the United States government approaches a deadline for raising the debt limit and the government shutdown nears its second week, Senate Democrats are taking a stand on sequestration.
The party’s leadership rejected an offer from Senate Republicans on Saturday morning mainly because the proposal locked in those budget cuts for too long.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called it the “single biggest sticking point” in negotiations, while his counterpart in leadership, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) deemed it the central dispute.
“The parties have different views. We passed a budget of $1.058 trillion and they passed one -- the Ryan budget -- [at] $988 [billion],” Schumer said. “So that is a serious issue.”
Democrats' stand over sequestration is a nice surprise for some progressive members who worried leadership would cave in this area. But instead, they were emboldened after polling showed them with the upper hand in budget fights. Democrats also noted that they, too, were concerned about the severity of the cuts.
Under a Senate Republican proposal crafted by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the government would have been funded at $988 billion for the next six months. Many Senate Democrats said they could live with that number -- just not for that long.
“If we can have a short term [continuing resolution at $988 billion] to get us through, say, the first of December, that is fine with me,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told The Huffington Post.
The question, said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), was: “Are we locked into the number for what amounts to the next year, or are we going to be able to get to the point where there are budget negotiations that can work with that number?”
The concern for Harkin and King, among others, is that the party could sacrifice too much negotiating power by signing off on Collins’ plan. Under the Budget Control Act, annual spending will be reduced to $967 billion around Jan. 15, regardless of the budget at the time. Democrats want to avoid that. They've concluded that it would be a misstep to put off a motivating moment (such as a budget deal ending) for those negotiations for six months, or to go on record supporting a six-month, $988 billion budget.
“[Waiting] would dis-incentivize the negotiation. It would put Democrats on a weaker ground,” said a top Senate Democratic aide. “If, in the next few days, we break the will of [Speaker] Boehner and Senate Republicans, and we pass both a clean CR and debt limit increase, I think that there is a belief within the Senate Democratic caucus that there is absolutely no way that they would have any leverage to make major demands in future negotiations about this, that we would be in a better position.”
Hints that Republicans may end up playing ball on sequestration emerged this week. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hinted that he would be willing to trade sequestration relief for entitlement reforms. Democrats aren’t ready to make that exchange yet because they view it as imbalanced, and because they want to get through the current crisis first.