I just had a fascinating Twitter exchange with GOP Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas that sheds light on the true nature of the impasse over the sequester. It confirms once again a fact about this that keeps getting lost in the noise, which is that there is no compromise solution that is acceptable to Republicans.
Are they joking? Or just addicted?
I responded by asking him, in follow up Tweets, whether he could accept a three-to-one, or a four-to-one, or a five-to-one ratio of new spending cuts to new revenues. Griffin — who, to his credit, has been very responsive — offered various replies. He noted that Obama has already gotten his tax increases, and said that spending cuts tend not to be real — familiar arguments from Republicans. Ron Fournier (who’s been arguing that both sides are to blame) entered the fray, and noted that the questions for Griffin were fair, which was welcome. After I pressed Griffin again, he responded that the “key is reform, especially entitlements.” So I asked:
Understood. So you would not accept a 3-to-1 ratio of entitlement reforms of your choosing to new revenues?
Griffin’s subsequent Tweets didn’t answer the question directly, and he closed with: “Thanks for the questions. Off to meetings.”
I think we can take that as a No.
One thing that is not well understood about the current standoff is that there is no scenario under which Republicans like Griffin can get the entitlement cuts they say they want without agreeing to new revenues. I’ve already laid out the reasons for this, but to reiterate the upshot of it, the only conceivable endgames here are: 1) we live with extended sequestration; 2) the parties reach a deal that trades entitlement cuts for new revenues; or 3) Dems insist that Republicans agree to replace the sequester with a combination of new revenues and spending cuts that don’t hit entitlement benefits at all, and Republicans cave under pressure from public opinion, an outcome liberals are still hoping for. This last option is an extreme long shot, so it looks like we’re down to a choice between the first two. What isn’t going to happen, however, is an entitlement-cuts-only deal.
This twitter exchange suggests yet again that there is no remotely reasonable compromise offer that Dems could make that Republicans are willing to accept. It’s inescapably clear why we are at an impasse. The only way to avoid seeing this is to willfully ignore the basic facts of the situation.