Friday, July 22, 2011

The Deal Dealing: Rumor Has It

Rumors are flying about the possibility of a “grand deal” being struck between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.

The status of negotiations has Democratic aides on both sides of the Capitol nervous and unhappy. And the notion that the impasse over the debt limit may be nearing an end is sparking denials from both the White House and Boehner’s office — in part, perhaps, because neither side has buy-in from their parties on a consensus plan.

A White House spokesman called the claims from aides “not credible” — the result of having a “third-hand version of the facts.”

Later, White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that reports of a $3 trillion deal without revenues were incorrect. “POTUS believes we need a balanced approach that includes revenues,” he wrote. However, what the President believes and what he may ultimately feel compelled to sign off on are not necessarily the same. Equally, Pfeiffer’s tweet would not seem to rule out the idea of “aspirational” revenues that would come at some unspecified time in the future, while coupled with cuts that could begin immediately.

Two aides and a third source close to the principals confirmed that Obama has been emphatic with Democratic negotiators that his preference is to negotiate a big deal with Boehner and squeeze it through Congress.

Lacking still, including among Democratic sources, is any sense of what’s in the still-forming plan — vis a vis both spending and revenue. And Democrats, particularly in the House, will have a lot to say over whether the deal is acceptable — their votes will be necessary for Boehner to pull off a grand bargain.

A lot of people are getting tired and freaked out about waiting to see about the wait-and-see game that’s going on. No one who is talking really knows what’s going on. There’s a fair share of people on both sides of the debate going to the mattresses on their side selling out to the other; I turned on Ed Schultz last night and he was in full rant mode. (But then, he always seems to be. That’s his schtick, bless ’em.)

I’ve lost count of the number of times in the last month that I’ve read something that a final deal is in the works and that President Obama has sold out to the GOP or that the Tea Party is revolting (Cue Mel Brooks: “You said it! They stink on ice!”), or that it’s 90% spending cuts and 10% revenue hikes that will happen later but never happen at all, or any number of variations in between.

But until something actually happens, there’s no point in getting worked up, especially in this heat.