Oh God, This Again?
Just when you think that you’re out…they pull you back in:
At least a dozen Republican senators are regularly meeting with President Obama’s top aides in an attempt to plot a way forward on the looming fiscal challenges facing leaders this fall, senators involved in the meetings tell National Journal.
The meetings, which began after Obama hosted GOP senators for dinner earlier this year, are the first sign that Democrats and Republicans are in talks to strike a deal that would reduce the deficit and reform entitlements and taxes.
“Everybody’s trying to assess whether we can accomplish something that would be big,” said Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who has attended the meetings. “Big is reforming entitlements and it’s impossible to see a path where you get additional revenue without tax reform being part of it.”
For those of us who don’t want a Grand Bargain at all, this is not good news. But if you keep reading the piece it becomes clear that for all the behind-the-scenes talks, not much has actually changed since the last time lawmakers tried to burnish their legacies by cutting social insurance:
The differences between the two sides, which helped kill a grand bargain between Obama and GOP House Speaker John Boehner last year, remain vast. Namely, Republicans want to see tax and entitlement reform while Democrats want more revenue….
An administration official said White House aides have made clear to Republicans that the president’s offer from December—including $600 billion in new tax revenue for $400 billion in Medicare and other health care cuts—still stands.
Republicans are open to $600 billion in revenue, Burr said, but want to see it come from a mix of entitlement and tax reform. And the GOP opposes Obama’s $400 billion in Medicare cuts, arguing they want more structural reforms.
The danger — again, for those who oppose the Grand Bargain — is that given enough time, Republicans will ultimately figure out how to take yes for an answer. I thought that the window had closed and the time had passed, and that was why the White House hadn’t said peep about a “big” deal in weeks. But it looks like the Grand Bargain is simply too strongly desired by the political class to ever truly go away.