New budget, same dance

Obama has a budget out now, and the chatter is pretty much what you’d expect.The budget is another attempt at a grand bargain on deficit reduction, offering up cuts to social programs in exchange for new revenues. I still think this has the priorities backwards, that we should be focusing on the immediately damaging unemployment problem, but I’ve made that point before. Anyway, the responses to this budget have been predictable.

After all, this is a dynamic that has been repeated often enough. Obama has spent much of his presidency chasing a grand bargain, a compromise between spending cuts and revenue increases that will substantially reduce the deficit. So when Republicans start mentioning specific policies they want to see:

… chained CPI cost-of-living adjustment, means-testing on Medicare premiums, and an increase in the Medicare eligibility age would be the “kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue.”

Obama makes proposals that include them. This time it was his budget. One of the problems is that what Republicans asked for is very unpopular. Talking about balanced budgets and hard choices is good politics. But actually making hard choices is bad politics. It exposes you to this kind of criticism from Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).

I’ll tell you when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taken $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country

He is talking about the parts of the budget Obama included as concessions to Republicans. The things they said they would consider trading for new revenues.

I don’t think this was intentional. I don’t think Republicans asked for these policies with the intent to turn them around on Obama. It is the natural result of a party running on ideas that appeal in the abstract but are incredibly unpopular when turned into actual policy. That, combined with their hyperbolic demonization of Obama, means that they have no option other than opposing everything Obama offers, including their own ideas.

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