Kent ConradWith friends like the Democratic senator from North Dakota, Kent Conrad, do progressives really need Republicans? On Fox News Sunday, Conrad said that everyone should just agree to a Fiscal Cliff deal that averages the last deals of Obama and Boehner. But Ezra Klein notes that this gives the advantage to the Republicans because that was the third offer from Obama and only the second offer from Boehner. The deal would raise taxes by $1.15 trillion and cut spending by $1.45 trillion. So even the 1-1 tax increases to spending cuts wouldn't be met. And I wasn't happy about this "balanced" approach.

The problem goes much deeper, however. Obama's last offer was terrible for the country. In the name of what are surely temporary tax increases, Obama accepted a change that would effectively destroy Social Security in the long run. What's more, it is clear that the deal was a final offer: this is what I can do for you to close this deal now. Of course, as many of us said at the time, this was a typical Obama mistake. It will lead to Boehner saying any deal must take Obama's last deal as the baseline. We can only hope (That audacious feeling!) that Obama will not go along with that.

Klein argues that the fear of the White House has always been that in the end Senate Democrats would cave. And that brings us back to Kent Conrad. I don't know what's going on in his mind. But he comes from a conservative state. I suspect that like a lot of Democrats, Conrad is basically a Republican but not crazy. He is one of the reasons that we didn't get a public option in the ACA. He is one of the reasons we keep drilling a mile under the ocean. And he is one of the idiots who only wants to raise taxes on those making more than a million dollars per year.

So we have more problems than just a conservative president with bad negotiating skills. We have a whole party made up of conservatives who are bad negotiators. And so we get the kind of policy you would expect in a two-party system made up of conservatives and crazies.