Greg Sargent: The Morning Plum:
[E]ver since Republicans rejected the first White House fiscal offer, White House negotiators have been asking Republicans to detail both the spending cuts they want and the loopholes and deductions they would close to raise revenues while avoiding a hike in tax rates for the rich…. Republicans continue to refuse to answer. “No answer ever since the Geithner meeting,” [an] official said. “To date they have been unwilling or able to identify a list of specific cuts or changes they would like or a single loophole they are willing to close.”
This is borne out by reporting in both the New York Times and Politico. How on earth can there be any progress under these circumstances?
There is a great deal of consternation this morning over the failure to reach a deal and what it says about the failings of our “political system.” But the main problem is not the “system,” it’s the behavior of one of the participants. It is overwhelmingly clear at this point that Republicans are the primary obstacle to any compromise. Admittedly, this is not a surprising assertion, coming from this blog. But let’s put it this way. There are three basic points about the current situation that make that conclusion inescapable. And I would ask anyone tempted to blame both sides equally whether they are wrong: (1) The GOP stance — that tax rates must not go up on the wealthy under any circumstances, ever — is essentially a fringe position at this point, one far outside the American mainstream. (2) The Democratic position — that our fiscal problems should be fixed through a mix of spending cuts and a hike in rates on the wealthy — is far closer to the middle ground than the GOP stance is, and Dems just decisively won an election focused heavily on the central sticking point holding up a fiscal compromise. (3) Republicans are demanding ever deeper spending cuts, but they won’t detail with any meaningful specificity what those cuts should be, and they insist they can solve our revenue problem via eliminating loopholes and deductions, but they won’t detail with any meaningful specificity what those should be, either. By contrast, Dems have detailed their demands…