Obama's new fiscal cliff offer: Instead of $1.6 trillion in new revenue, how about $1.4 trillion?

First I thought, “Wait, aren’t he and Boehner supposed to be getting closer to a deal? This doesn’t sound close.” Then I thought, “Aha — he’s trying to drive a hard bargain on tax revenue so that he can concede on it later in exchange for stuff he really needs in the package, like a new round of stimulus spending and a debt-ceiling increase.” But then I thought, “If his demand on revenue is just a smokescreen, though, why float a new number? Why not just sit on $1.6 trillion so that his eventual concession to Boehner on this point looks even more magnanimous?”


Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama have exchanged new offers in the negotiations over the “fiscal cliff.”…

Boehner’s office would not provide any details of the offer.

The Boehner offer came in response to a new White House proposal put on the table after Obama and Boehner met face-to-face on Sunday.

The new Obama offer contained $1.4 trillion in revenue, down from $1.6 trillion. Boehner in his new offer remained at $800 billion, a source confirmed.

Maybe … this is a spur to get Congress to take up tax reform? Even when the two sides are in concession mode, they’re so far apart on revenue that only a complete rethink of the tax code might bridge the gap in a mutually satisfactory way. Or maybe I’m kidding myself here and O really does want to go over the cliff, with his new $1.4 trillion a token concession meant to show how supposedly “reasonable” he is while knowing that the GOP will never agree to it. Although in that case, how to explain the fact that a source tells CNN the White House initially considered dropping its offer to $1.2 trillion before backing off to $1.4 trillion instead? Are they trying to reach a deal or not?

In related news, none of this matters because it’s all occurring outside the impenetrable cocoon of fiscal denial in which most Americans live their lives:

– Voters oppose, by 59 percent to 40 percent, raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. There’s a gender gap on that issue, with women more opposed to raising the age, perhaps reflecting their longer life expectancy.

– Voters oppose cutting overall spending for Medicare, by 74 percent to 23 percent.

– They oppose cutting spending for Medicaid, the program for the poor, by 70 percent to 26 percent.

– They oppose reducing the federal tax deduction for home mortgage interest, by 67 percent to 29 percent.

– They oppose eliminating the tax deduction for charitable contributions, by 69 percent to 28 percent.

Lest you think it’s Democrats driving the entitlement side of those numbers, note that a majority of Republicans opposes each of those measures also, per McClatchy. The one and only fiscal proposal to draw majority support among the general public was, you guessed it, tax hikes on the rich.

Exit question: Is “let it burn” the only way to crack open the cocoon? Watch Rand Paul make the case, LIB-style, for tax hikes at 2:19.