Peter Baker wrote a good article for the New York Times yesterday, Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line. It is very evenhanded, of course, but just in reporting the facts, it makes the Republicans look very bad.
The Republicans claim, for example, that they have changed: they are now willing to raise taxes by cutting deductions. This is a bluff, of course; they know that the few deductions that really do end up getting cut will very quickly be reinstated. But it goes further than this. Boehner claims that by cutting deductions he can raise $80 billion. First, this is half what the president is requesting. Second, as usual, Boehner won’t say what those deductions are. And for good reason: the White House says that to close that many loopholes, Boehner would have to end popular policies like charitable deductions.
This is the Republicans all over. They want serious, long-term cuts to social programs and in exchange for vague promises of maybe increasing revenue in the future but who knows how. Meanwhile, the Democrats present a detailed proposal and it is a “non-starter,” apparently because it does not give Boehner 99% of what he wanted. (Note: when Boehner did get 99% of what he wanted, he still turned down the deal.)
Baker reports that the Republicans are also floating this idea that Obama is acting like Bush in 2005:
Obviously, this is the kind of thing that Republicans say to make themselves feel better. The situations are totally different. Bush went out to convince the country that his idea to privatize Social Security was a great idea. The country hated the idea before and after his tour. Obama, on the other hand, is going out to boost for an idea that is already popular—even among Republicans. So this isn’t an issue of a president who wins by a small majority pitching an unpopular plan; it is a reasonably popular president shoring up support that already exists.
I hate reading the coverage of this day after day, because it really doesn’t matter. Most likely, this will go into January. Then everyone will freak out and we will get a deal. And that deal will be heavily biased toward President Obama and the Democrats. Because they have the leverage. Because the Republicans gave them that leverage over the last two years. Because the Republicans were too big of dicks to compromise.
The dickishness has not changed, but it no long has that much power.