Probably just an empty messaging ploy aimed at convincing voters that he’s a deficit hawk at heart and willing to meet those darned GOP terrorists more than halfway, but I’ve always held out hope that his own reelection ambitions might lead him toward a major deficit reduction package. Granted, there’s no way it’ll contain the sort of entitlement reform needed to really get a handle on the budget, but if he agreed to big cuts before the election, it’d take the teeth out of the GOP’s 2012 Spendageddon narrative. There’s something in it for you, champ, which is what’s really important.
Two Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations over a deal to raise the debt limit said Wednesday that President Obama wants the final deal to be bigger than the $2 trillion deal that has been the focus of negotiations so far.
In fact, they said, Mr. Obama wants the deal to save the government as close to $4 trillion as possible.
Mr. Obama said Tuesday that lawmakers have “a unique opportunity to do something big,” and a deal to save the federal government $4 trillion would certainly qualify. The officials said the president believes “these moments come around at most once a decade” and that “you can’t run away from an opportunity like this.”
According to the officials, Mr. Obama believes that a larger deal would actually be easier to get through Congress. His thinking, they indicated, is this: Any major deal, whether it’s for $2 trillion in cuts or $4 trillion in cuts, will cause significant pain for both parties. But a larger deal allows backers to argue that despite their misgivings, they’ve taken a major step toward dealing with the deficit and debt problem.
Actually, this may just be his way of stoking the coals from yesterday’s David Brooks CW heard ’round the world about the GOP having lost their minds for not accepting a compromise on taxes. If Democrats know that Republicans categorically won’t agree to new tax revenues — see Jay Cost’s post today for a pithy reminder why — then they have every incentive to sweeten the pot on revenue raisers with even deeper cuts. There’s no risk in the offer since they know Republicans will reject it, and there’s plenty of PR upside in being seen as the “reasonable,” cost-cutting party in the negotiations. Potentially, if enough political pressure mounted against Republicans, it would even create some political space for a lesser compromise with no revenue raisers but much smaller cuts. The left will hate that, but Obama would be able to bludgeon the GOP next year with the talking point that he was the one who wanted a giant $4 trillion package with a little squeezing o’ the rich thrown in, but they pigheadedly refused and settled for, say, just $1 trillion in cuts instead. Or maybe I’m missing another angle here? Only one thing is certain, my friends: We must lay aside our petty political rhetoric, and yet we must also not let these crazy wingnuts hold a gun to America’s head.