That was fast. In the course of a day, the president went from refusing to negotiate without a surrender to inviting everyone over to talk about all issues.
The Post reports:
With financial markets reflecting growing concern about the potential for a U.S. default, the White House on Wednesday announced a series of meetings with lawmakers from both parties to focus on the government shutdown, looming debt crisis and festering fiscal stalemate.
House Democrats have been invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW on Wednesday afternoon, a White House official said. Senate Democrats, House Republicans and Senate Republicans will be asked to attend similar sessions in the coming days.
What goes on in the meetings is up to the parties, but it seems the smart course for Republicans is to declare success. He has agreed to talk! Now, Republicans would argue he won’t actually negotiate. That doesn’t mean he can’t be pressured to do so.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (Ohio) should show up with a proposal in hand. He should ask the president for a response, and publicly reiterate the request. This may not be what the president had in mind, but no matter. He plainly is nervous about maintaining the “no negotiations” position. That is the opening, however tiny, for Republicans to slip through, get off the continuing resolution and shutdown and finally address the significant issues that concern them.
It is noteworthy that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) put out today a paper addressing some of the bigger fiscal issues we face. He makes the case that while short-term cuts in discretionary spending (the sequester?) are well and good, the real work must come in restructuring entitlement reforms. That suggests a small loosening in discretionary cuts might be traded for small but (in the long run) significant entitlement reforms. That’s the sort of conversation Republicans should have at their meeting. Maybe they can bring along a copy of Ryan’s paper.