Obama: It would be "inexcusable" for us not to compromise on a budget

Conveniently omitted, natch: We’re only in this situation now because the Pelosi Congress failed to pass a budget when it had a chance. If they were truly worried about radically radical tea-party radicals pressuring a new Republican majority into playing hardball, they could have prevented this scenario last year. But they did nothing, chiefly in order to protect Blue Dogs from a tough vote before the midterms. And oddly enough, The One didn’t find that “inexcusable” or insist on people “acting like grown-ups” at the time. So here he is, dashing into the briefing room this afternoon following a morning of saturation coverage of Paul Ryan’s budget to remind America that He Cares, that he and the left are gravely concerned about a shutdown, and that if it comes to that anyway, well, you know whom to blame. Be grateful, I guess, that he was willing to put in an appearance: On the long list of things Obama doesn’t want to take the lead on, budgetary matters are near the very top.

As I’m writing this, Reid and Boehner are meeting to try to hash out an eleventh-hour compromise. I wondered yesterday if the near-certainty that the GOP will have to drop its demands on base-pleasing gestures like defunding Planned Parenthood might force Boehner to demand steeper cuts as compensation. Lo and behold, just across from Politico:

Republican and Democratic officials confirmed that Speaker John Boehner raised the $40 billion number or $7 billion above the target now being used in negotiations. The Ohio Republican is slated to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Tuesday afternoon, and Obama said that if the two can’t reach an agreement, he wants them back at the White House Wednesday for more discussions…

Boehner’s press office sidestepped any comment on the $40 billion number. Instead a spokesman said only “The speaker has told Senate Democrats, the President, and the American people that he will fight for the largest possible spending cuts to help end some of the uncertainty that is making it harder to create American jobs.”…

Democrats have complained that the speaker keeps “moving the goal posts” in response to tea party pressure, but the $40 billion target is the clearest signal yet of where he would be willing to draw a final line.

I’m surprised that Boehner’s willing to drive a hard bargain on a day when the media, however grudgingly, is hip-deep in Ryanpalooza. With all the chatter about slashing trillions, reforming entitlements, and dealing seriously with a fiscal crisis that Obama hasn’t remotely begun to take seriously, this was an easy opportunity for Boehner to quietly agree to $33 billion and then immediately change the subject by rallying behind Ryan. Curious to see what comes out of this meeting.

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