They Won’t Take Yes for an AnswerBy
NC Democrats newly in the legislative minority had better learn what Ezra Klein just learned via Twitter: Republicans won’t take yes for an answer. Give them what they want and they’ll just demand more.
Klein had suggested that if only congressional Republicans knew how much President Obama was willing to offer, they might be willing to settle on a budget deal. He cites a recent background briefing with a prominent Republican legislator to illustrate:
Would it matter, one reporter asked the veteran [unnamed] legislator, if the president were to put chained-CPI — a policy that reconfigures the way the government measures inflation and thus slows the growth of Social Security benefits — on the table?
“Absolutely,” the legislator said. “That’s serious.”
But Obama has, another reporter injects. (It’s on the White House website in bold type.)
“I’d love to see it,” the legislator laughs. That Republican lawmakers seem not to know, Klein surmised à la “Cool Hand Luke,” is a failure to communicate.
No, it isn’t, Jonathan Chait countered. The anti-tax zealots of the GOP caucus aren’t interested in a deal. (And not even pragmatic, moderate Republicans, as it works out.) Chait writes,
All this is to say that, if Obama could get hold of Klein’s mystery legislator and inform him of his budget offer, it almost certainly wouldn’t make a difference. He would come up with something – the cuts aren’t real, or the taxes are awful, or they can’t trust Obama to carry them out, or something.
And voilà, Republican consultant and pundit, moderate Mike Murphy, steps up on Twitter to prove Chait’s point in an exchange with John Harwood. Klein recaps:
Murphy’s initial view was that to unlock GOP votes for a budget deal, Obama just needed to endorse chained CPI and more means-testing in Medicare. Then it was pointed out that Obama has endorsed means-testing in Medicare, so Murphy wondered why he didn’t endorse chained CPI as part of a deal. Then it was pointed out that Obama did endorse chained CPI, at which point Murphy called chained CPI “a gimmick,” and said Obama had to endorse raising the Medicare age, drop his demands for more revenue as part of a deal and earn back the GOP’s trust.
Klein owes Jonathan Chait a beer. Murphy ran by the Republican playbook just as Chait predicted. “Check, check, and check,” wrote Klein.
For some people, nothing really happens unless it’s reported on Fox.