Quotes of the day

“The average Republican voter, based on this data, wants a mix of 26 percent tax increases to 74 percent spending cuts. The average independent voter prefers a 34-to-66 mix, while the average Democratic voter wants a 46-to-54 mix…

“If we do take the Republicans’ no-new-taxes position literally, it isn’t surprising that the negotiations have broken down. Consider that, according to the Gallup poll, Republican voters want the deal to consist of 26 percent tax increases, and Democratic voters 46 percent — a gap of 20 percentage points. If Republicans in the House insist upon zero tax increases, there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican voters than there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.

“It would be foolish, in my view, to render any overly specific predictions about how the negotiations are likely to be resolved. But I would put greater weight on scenarios that would involve House Republicans not having to violate the pledge they signed to Mr. Norquist, including an end-around like Mr. McConnell’s — or even a failure to raise the debt ceiling at all, resulting in some combination of a debt default, a government shutdown, and a Constitutional crisis.”

“Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), who co-chaired the White House’s deficit reduction panel last year, said he has lost hope the White House and Congress will be able to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

“‘I don’t think they’ll get it done,’ he told Washington Wire. ‘I did for a long while. Now that I see the total rigidity of the parties, if that is going to continue, there’s just no hope. I thought there would be.'”

“‘Our problem is we made a big deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I’m not going to raise the debt limit.’ You know, Mitch [McConnell] says, ‘I’m not going to raise the debt limit unless we talk about Medicare.’ And I’ve said I’m not going to raise the debt limit until we do something about spending and entitlements.’ So we’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves,’ [Lindsey] Graham told reporters after a GOP caucus lunch.

“‘We shouldn’t have said that if we didn’t mean it.'”

“A blow-up between Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the end of Wednesday’s White House negotiating session captured the building tension. ‘He’s frustrated, we’re all frustrated,’ Cantor said, describing the president as ‘abruptly walking out.’ Democrats took a different slant: ‘He (Obama) lit up Eric Cantor like he’s never been lit up,’ said one in the room…

“Cantor, who sparred on several occasions Wednesday with the president, complains of what he sees as a steady retreat from the higher level of savings that he anticipated would come from the Biden talks…

“Silent like two bookends throughout were McConnell and Reid. And it’s clear the two men are moving toward some variation of McConnell’s draft, sweetened perhaps with Democratic options and some savings, perhaps, to attract conservatives.”

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is working with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on an updated version of a proposal McConnell floated on Tuesday to allow President Obama to raise the federal debt ceiling in multiple steps.

“Reid has proposed linking McConnell’s plan with spending cuts—totaling perhaps $1 trillion over 10 years—and identified talks led by Vice President Joe Biden as the likely source of those cuts, according to Senate leadership aides. When each chamber voted to approve the process allowing Obama to increase the debt ceiling, they would also vote on the cuts, the aides said.

“‘The Republican Leader’s proposal combined with ideas he and I have been discussing to force a vote on deficit-reduction proposals could go a long way toward resolving the impasse we now find ourselves in,’ Reid said Wednesday morning.”

“There seems to be a sense on the Right that McConnell’s concession to reality was far too broad, far too soon, and far too permissive—that Obama and the Democrats must be made to account for the increase in the debt limit with significant spending cuts that will at least mitigate in some way the damage they did by piling on new debt in 2009 and 2010, and that McConnell is letting them off the hook. Fair enough; maybe he was. But the question he was attempting to answer is which will be more damaging to the GOP and conservatives generally: Raising the debt limit without making Obama pay or failing to raise the debt limit? McConnell is betting that failing to raise the debt limit, or even contributing to the general uncertainty about whether the debt limit will be raised, is worse for him and his party.

“It is, of course, a guessing game, trying to figure out who would be blamed for bad stuff. But peddling the ‘narrative’ in which the GOP gets blamed for irresponsible and unreasonable negotiating tactics has a long history of working for Democrats. McConnell’s sense that seeming to be recalcitrant about raising the debt ceiling is more perilous than the alternative is sound pessimistic politics, which takes into account that very danger.”

“[L]et’s be serious: there is no dealing with Obama on entitlements in the next eighteen months because there is no common ground to be found with him. Sure, he talks a good game about controlling spending, but consider his actions. The country handed the keys of the kingdom to Obama and the Democrats in November 2008. At that point, CBO was already projecting that entitlement spending was going to break the bank, and what did Obama and his party do? Create another new entitlement, one designed not for long-term durability, but short-term political calculations. Since his midterm rebuke, he’s decided to channel hyper-partisan Harry Truman and run against the evil Republicans, who are threatening to kill seniors with the Ryan plan. Clearly, his focus is on his reelection, which is dependent on firing up the Democratic left once again…

“This is the party’s best bet: rein in spending as best it can in a debt ceiling deal as well as the upcoming budget, then take the battle on deficits to the November 2012 election, offering the public this position: Our entitlement system is no longer sustainable with the taxes we raise to support it; either taxes must be raised substantially or the system must be reformed; we Republicans oppose tax hikes and believe that reform of the system can be achieved without reducing benefits.”

“I don’t trust this President… He doesn’t know how to make those cuts. He’s never had to do this before. He’s always just been one to spend other people’s money even if that money is just borrowed money or printed out of thin air. He’s never had to exercise real executive authority like that.” Click the image to watch.