Even more unbelievable than the “offer” itself is the fact that the our hack media will go on painting Republicans as the unreasonable ideologues in this equation.
House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, was likely to meet strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other entitlements, to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.
He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might well be outnumbered by upfront spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare…
[T]he details show how far the president is ready to push House Republicans. The upfront tax increases in the proposal go beyond what Senate Democrats were able to pass earlier this year. Tax rates would go up for higher-income earners, as in the Senate bill, but Mr. Obama wants their dividends to be taxed as ordinary income, something the Senate did not approve. He also wants the estate tax to be levied at 45 percent on inheritances over $3.5 million, a step several Democratic senators balked at. The Senate bill made no changes to the estate tax, which currently taxes inheritances over $5 million at 35 percent.
Here’s Peter Suderman’s idea of a commensurate counter-offer:
Republicans hear Obama’s opening bid, counter with: Eliminate the federal government, except for defense.
— Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) November 29, 2012
Two possibilities. One: Obama reeeeally wants to avoid the cliff, so he’s engineering some political cover for the other side to compromise. Ante up with a ridiculous bid, then pretend to let Republicans “win” by letting them negotiate him down to, say, “only” a trillion in new revenues. In order to believe that, though, you have to believe that O fears the cliff. Why would he? Polls show that Republicans will take most of the blame, which means not only will Obama have more leverage after January 1 (see my earlier post about that) but he can then blame any economic sluggishness over the next year or two or four on the GOP too. That might be the difference between a Republican Senate versus a Democratic House in 2014. Which brings us to two: He’s either indifferent about going over the cliff or now actively wants it to happen, and since he knows he can count on the press to scapegoat Republicans when it does, he’s decided to shoot for the stars with his “offer” and see how desperate Boehner is. Is the GOP sufficiently nervous about being called enemies of the middle class if a deal isn’t reached that they’ll cave on tax hikes on the rich in exchange for some smaller bundle of concessions, with this insane package the only other alternative on the Democratic side? That’s what O wants to see.
Exit question: Let it burn?
Update: NRO’s Dan Foster asks a good question:
Is the White House proposal supposed to reduce the deficit? By how much?
— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterNRO) November 29, 2012
We’re supposed to be paying down the deficit here, not squeezing the rich to fund Obama’s next government expansion. How much of this mega-soak is designed to do the former rather than the latter?
Update: Laughable, literally:
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts…
Geithner suggested $1.6 trillion in tax increases, McConnell says, but showed “minimal or no interest” in spending cuts. When congressional leaders went to the White House three days after the election, Obama talked of possible curbs on the explosive growth of food stamps and Social Security disability payments. But since Geithner didn’t mention them, those reductions appear to be off the table now, McConnell says.
Update: Via NRO, hard to argue with this.