Robert's Stochastic thoughts: Dan Balz writes what I'm sure he considers a very hard hitting column about what's wrong with the debt ceiling negotiations. He concludes the problem is the House Republican Caucus:
But it’s clear that House Republicans are the principal obstacle to any grand bargain that includes substantial new revenue. Their rigid opposition runs contrary to public opinion…
But the impressive thing is that even when assigning blame, Balz feels the need to assert a false equivalence. Actually I'm not sure he felt anything. I think it is likely that he does this without thinking or imagining that there is an alternative. He wrote
Republican opposition to tax increases is an article of faith for the party, but many GOP lawmakers, particularly the freshman who came in with the support of the tea party movement, are more rigidly opposed than ever. Similarly, many Democrats, who have won elections attacking Republicans over Social Security and Medicare, remain strongly opposed to cuts in those programs…
He could also have written
Republican opposition to tax increases is an article of faith for the party, but many GOP lawmakers, particularly the freshman who came in with the support of the tea party movement, are more rigidly opposed than ever. Similarly, many Republicans, who have won elections attacking Democrats over Medicare, remain strongly determined to cut that program and eliminate it if possible…
The last campaign wasn't so long ago. Balz knows perfectly well that Republicans claimed that the PPACA cut Medicare benefits (when they didn't suggest that it established death panels). He also knows that the public disagrees with the Republicans on taxes and he must know that the public strongly agrees with the Democrats on Medicare and Social Security.
What is the justification for the word "similarly." Why did Balz type that word? It is not needed. It is not true. Did he even consider the possibility of not claiming that two things which are fundamentally different are similar?
Notice one asymmetry: Republicans have "faith". Democrats' support for Medicare and Social Security must be based on political calculation. The possibility that people actually sincerely think that cutting those programs is a bad idea is not conceivable even though the vast majority of people in the USA sincerely think that cutting those programs is a bad idea.