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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 08/04/2011

Puzzled Dems ask: Why, oh why, won’t Republicans be flexible?

As the wrangling around the creation of the debt ceiling deal’s Congressional “super-committee” continues apace, Republicans are signaling that they will not appoint anyone to that committee who will raise revenues in any way, shape or form. By contrast, Dems — despite the urging of liberals — have not been willing to say they will only appoint people who agree to draw hard lines on liberal priorities.

Apparently this disparity has left Harry Reid, the creator of the super-committtee, very frustrated and angry, according to this amazing nugget buried in a Politico piece:

Reid is already upset that Republican leaders have declared that they will not appoint anyone to the joint committee who backs any tax hike, a virtual replay of the spending cuts vs. new tax revenues fight that consumed Washington for the past several months.
“So what does that leave the committee to do?” Reid said. “Should Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?”

Well, one thing Dem leaders might do is ... to lay down firm markers of their own. After all, Reid seems to appreciate the fact that the same dynamic that led to a debt deal lopsided in favor of spending cuts is already playing out again. So why not try to change that dynamic?

Look, I sympathize with Dems here. This committee can’t function if everyone goes into it having taken everything important to them off the table. And as I previously wrote, I’m not sure there was anything Dems could have done to secure a different outcome in the debt ceiling fight, given the approach Republicans adopted.

But literally two days have passed since Obama signed the debt ceiling deal creating the super-committee, and the debate over it is already carrying echoes of the last one, in which Dems were confident they would win if they occupied some sort of reasonable middle ground while painting the GOP as uncompromising and ideologically rigid.

Indeed, Nancy Pelosi told new media reporters today that if Republicans “want to draw lines in the sand” they will “look like the obstructionists.”

“You won’t see me drawing lines in the sand,” Pelosi continued. She was making a purely political case here, and given Pelosi’s track record, I expect she will push hard for committee appointments that will try to hold the line on entitlements benefits and new revenues. But Congressional Dems appear to be again proceeding from the assumption that they will win politically if they signal more flexibility at the outset on core prorities, while painting Republicans who are making it clear that they won’t budge on their priorities as extreme and crazy.

I don’t know if they’re right about the politics or not, and again, I sympathize with the plight Dem leaders are in and expect them to put up something of a fight on core priorities. But it’s hard not to feel like we’re watching a rerun of a bad movie through the haze of a really bad hangover.

UPDATE: For a full accounting of what Pelosi said today on this topic, check out Sam Stein’s report.

By  |  12:23 PM ET, 08/04/2011

 
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