The papers are full of speculation to the effect that Dems are prepared to drop their push for the millionaire surtax if Republicans drop their insistence on the Keystone XL pipeline. Dems have been leaking their willingness to drop the surtax for days now.

But check out how John Boehner responded today when asked whether the Dem willingness to drop the surtax would improve the prospects of a deal:

“They never had the votes for their so-called millionaires’ surtax,” Boehner said at his weekly briefing with reporters. “They didn’t even have the votes in 2009 and 2010, when they controlled everything. So, I appreciate the fact that they gave up on their millionaires’ surtax, but they didn’t give anything up because they never had it.”

This is an important quote, and we should store it for future reference. Republicans are saying that if Dems drop their demand for the millionaire surtax, it won’t even count as giving something up. Dems never had a chance at getting their surtax, because Republicans have refused to support it. And so, even though Dems have been demanding it in the current discussions, dropping that demand won’t count as a concession on Dems’ part.

Dems view these talks as follows: We give something up, and you give something up in return. Reupblicans view them as: Your concessions don’t even count as concessions, because we were never going to agree to your demands in the first place, so you’ll have to come up with some real concessions, i.e., you’ll have to give up more. This pretty clearly illustrates the folly of signaling a willingness to compromise in advance, doesn’t it?