* E.J. Dionne on what the GOP’s Michigan union-busting tells us about the conservative movement’s continued preference for scorched earth power tactics over an actual rethink of ideas and policies that might broaden its appeal.
* Paul Krugman, on the GOP demand that Obama detail “fiscal cliff” spending cuts before Republicans do:
This is not a negotiation in the normal sense, in which each side makes proposals and they dicker over the details; instead, Republicans are demanding that Obama read their minds and produce a proposal they’ll like. And Obama won’t do that, for good reason: he knows that they’ll just pronounce themselves unsatisfied with whatever he comes up with, and are indeed very likely to campaign in 2014 attacking him for whatever cuts take place.
Exactly. Indeed, that has already happened. The White House’s first offer contained $600 billion in spending cuts. Republicans denounced them as not “serious,” and demanded Obama propose more — which of course would have inevitably been denounced as not “serious,” no matter what he offered. And remember: Republicans campaigned against Dems for cutting Medicare in 2010 and 2012.
* Still another sign, after the last round of fiscal cliff offers ended in a tense conversation between Obama and Boehner, that we may be going over the cliff:
On Thursday, Obama’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, told Senate Democrats during a closed-door luncheon meeting that talks have since made little headway.
The previous quiet from both sides suggested possible movement, but now it looks like we’ve backslid, or at least that Republicans are in a holding pattern and are still refusing to tell the White House what they want.
* I hope journalists covering the fiscal cliff read this memo from David Atkins, which offers a bracing reminder that not all progress is good progress, and that the big story here is really one about inequality.
* Chuck Schumer, on why Dems have the leverage this time: “the election was fought on revenues; we won it on revenues; the public is with us on revenues.”
* This, from Atrios, captures the immorality of raising the Medicare age:
I just can’t imagine telling 62 year olds … psych! No Medicare for another 5 years!
* Jed Lewison: The growing sense that a hike in the Medicare age may not be on the table could mean Dems are finally getting smart about not playing the game on GOP turf.
* As Steve Benen notes, it’s good to see that the Congressional Research Service is standing by its conclusion that tax rates on the rich are unrelated to economic growth, even after Republicans tried to make its finding disappear.
* Chris Cillizza offers another possible reason for Susan Rice’s withdrawal: Dem Senators up for reelection in 2014 might have balked at voting for her, making her nomination DOA. I really hope that isn’t true, but it wouldn’t be surprising.
* David Dayen on how Rice alienated the left as well as the right, meaning this may not be all that great a loss. Also:
The real damage here is the perception that if the conservative noise machine makes enough noise, eventually they will succeed at their goals.
* Would the “talking filibuster” actually work? Jonathan Bernstein has his doubts, and urges Dems to focus instead on removing the filibuster of nominations — and threatening the constitutional option to make it happen.
* Kevin Drum also remains unconvinced by the talking filibuster:
I simply don’t think it would have the slightest effect. Republicans would have little trouble keeping up a filibuster via tag-teaming, and the Senate would grind to a complete halt while it was going on. The end result would be to slow down the Senate more than under the current rules.
I agree that there is reason to believe Republicans would not be dissuaded, since right wing media would reward their grandstanding, but I still wonder whether other news orgs would cover it as real obstructionism.
* And Philip Klein has a thoughtful response to my post earlier today asking how much longer the GOP can afford to ignore public opinion.