Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hopeful Spin and Not Much More

It sounds like they did a lot of talking and didn’t get much resolved at the White House meeting between President Obama and the Republicans.

On Tuesday, according to people in the room, both sides engaged in the kind of cross-party dealmaking that seems to have faded away in today’s Washington. The participants emerged smiling and with a loose framework – though they did not outline it publicly – that could result in the temporary extension of all the tax cuts, as well as the ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the continuation of unemployment benefits and funding for government operations into next year.

It sounds like a lot of hopeful spin. The GOP still sounds like they’re digging in on making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and since they have to deal with a group of hard-liners and cranky white people in funny hats who don’t believe in compromise — much less know how to spell it — and the Democrats can’t get their act together to even rent a united front on such no-brainers as extending unemployment benefits, it is going to have to be a real season of miracles if there is any progress made before the end of the lame-duck session.

President Obama later held a short press briefing. Here’s how digby interprets the president’s remarks:

The Republicans would like to pay for millionaires’ tax cuts by throwing the unemployed out in the streets at Christmas time. It’s their way of celebrating the joy of the holiday season. Democrats are afraid that if they don’t extend tax cuts for millionaires every pundit will be mad at them. So I’m going to compromise by agreeing to extend the tax cuts in exchange for allowing the Republicans to take credit for being decent human beings rather than the evil scumbags they are by extending unemployment benefits. (Democrats will still be seen as desperate losers and everyone will hate me, as usual, but that’s how the system works.)

Oh, and once that’s done we’ll finally be able to do that Grand Bargain I’ve been promising and get down to the business of slashing entitlements. The Republicans have already agreed to stage a phony hissy fit to be named later which they can use as a negotiating chip to get what they wanted in the first place. We will, of course, meet them halfway and agree to destroy the safety net. It’s win-win!

Happy days are here again.