* Which party is really in a “political hole” on deficit and Medicare?
My pick for read of the morning is David Rogers’s dissection of the current state of the deficit talks, in particular this analysis of the politics of the situation:
House Republicans have dug a political hole for themselves on the debt issue and their own controversial budget plan to dramatically reshape Medicare.
A deal now that includes substantial Medicare savings — and thereby diffuses that political issue in 2012 — could be a real asset for Boehner. Democrats have put options on the table representing close to $500 billion in 10-year savings from Medicare and Medicaid. This could be dialed up or down depending on Republican willingness to agree to more revenues, and by being so aggressive for “something big,” Obama is trying to make the GOP look small if it walks away.
Obama and Dems appear to be trying to box Boehner in: If he agrees to real revenue increases, Dems will agree to Medicare cuts as a way to allow Boehner to ease the weight of the political problem Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan has created for Republicans. But Boehner has repeatedly insisted he won’t support new revenues, and if he walks away after having been offered substantial Medicare concessions by Dems, the GOP risks looking as if they’re hostage to anti-tax fanaticism, unconcerned about the fate of the country, and are “not fit to govern,” as David Brooks put it yesterday.
But even if the GOP is in a difficult spot, it also needs to be pointed out yet again how much Democrats appear to be on the verge of trading away. If the GOP has dug itself a political hole, Dems appear to be on the verge of cheerfully supplying the dirt Republicans need to fill it.
As it is the debate is unfolding almost entirely on GOP turf, in a place where Republicans are getting far more than anyone thought possible in exchange for a debt ceiling hike that they themselves already agreed months ago was inevitable. Any concessions Dems win from Republicans on new revenues will be dwarfed by what Dems are giving up. And we don’t even know yet precisely what sort of Medicare cuts Dems are offering. If they agree to benefits cuts it could deprive them of some of the political advantage they have carefully built up on the issue in recent months. But it’s looking increasingly like the White House and Dems are willing to trade that advantage away in exchange for a deal and an opportunity for Obama to reap the anticipated political advantages that come with having presided over one.
* Dems to GOP: Stop coddling millionaires: Senator Jeff Sessions declares that it’s “pathetic” that Dem Senators are preparing to vote on a resolution calling on millionaires to contribute more to deficit reduction, prompting this response from Harry Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson:
“Apparently, nothing irritates Republicans more than the prospect that millionaires and billionaires might be asked to share in the burden of deficit reduction.”
The resolution itself is right here, and Dems could hold a vote on it this week, in an effort to gain leverage in the deficit talks. That a non-binding measure of this type is even required to demonstrate that there’s some support for hiking high end taxes to close the deficit is another reminder of just how far to the right the debate has shifted.
* How about a 50-50 split of tax hikes and spending cut? Senator Kent Conrad is presenting Dems with a deficit-reduction plan that involves an even split between new revenues and spending cuts. The poor Senator appears to be laboring under the delusion that “compromise” is supposed to involve both sides giving up roughly equivalent concessions.
In all seriousness, that such an idea is considered so hopelessly outlandish is also a sign of how far to the right the debate has shifted.
* National money begins to flow in Wisconsin recall wars: National Dems are going up in Wisconsin with a very tough new ad slamming one of the GOP candidates trying to recall a Dem state senator over a court record accusing the Republican of domestic abuse:
The spot — which was paid for by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which tries to elect Dems to state legislatures — is a reminder that Dems caught a very big break when it emerged that one of the Dem state senators vulnerable to a recall, Dave Hanson, would be facing a very weak challenger in David Landerleest. Because of this, Dems are more likely to recapture the state senate.
* Mitt Romney’s latest flip-flopping becomes a national story: Romney’s repeated contortions on the issue of whether Obama made the economy “worse” (he didn’t, according to independent fact checkers) earns a big takeout in the New York Times.
* Romney’s fundraising haul fall short of last time: He takes in $18.25 million this quarter, which will put him far ahead of his GOP rivals but also falls short of what he raised at the same time during his 2008 bid.
The Dem response, from Obama ally Bill Burton: “Has there ever been a time when the frontrunner raised less the 2d time he ran? Why did millions of dollars abandon Mitt Romney?”
* Phony deficit hawkery of the day: Very tough must-read column by David Leonhardt on the business community’s empty pieties on the deficit and its preference for maintaining corporate tax loopholes at the expense of our fiscal health.
* GOP struggling to capitalize on Rust Belt woes: Interesting look by Josh Kraushaar at how the GOP has been unable to mount serious challenges to sitting Dem senators in three key Rust Belt states, despite Obama’s travails in them, and what this all means for 2012.
* Reality check of the day: Digby argues that Obama is now buying into the GOP frame on the debt ceiling and the deficit in a way that is fundamentally misleading the American public.
* And does anyone care about “repeal and replace” anymore? House Republicans began the year pledging to come up with their own replacement for the Affordable Care Act, but six months later there’s no sign of any legislation or even any real activity in the direction of producting it.
What else is happening?