As I wrote yesterday, something's happening between the two parties. The main subject during the first part of Morning Joe today, aside from talk about the court's overturning Bloomberg's ban on large size soft drinks in NY, was the budget talks in DC. Paul Ryan has come forward with the GOP budget from the House, and now even the Democrats are coming forward with a budget, or at least that's what we're told, and the President is belatedly putting out a budget soon.
Representative Matt Salmon was on, in addition to Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Eugene Robinson, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Steve Rattner, John Meacham, and a few others at different times during the show to discuss the budgets and the possibility of a Grand Bargain.
I wrote yesterday that when President Obama and the Republicans met for dinner, followed by Paul Ryan meeting the President for lunch, then Ryan announcing his budget's rejection of Obamacare the day after the lunch, it all looked suspicious. It appears that the basic plans for a Grand Bargain were discussed, and Ryan was given a red light to first satisfy the barbarian Tea Partiers to keep them from the gate by announcing the rejection of Obamacare. Scarborough said this morning that of course Republicans have to reject Obamacare, wink wink, but then Democrats will have to insist on taxes, taxes, taxes, wink wink, but in the end all will work out.
The establishment types on both sides are making noise regarding the Grand Bargain. The idea is that "serious" legislators believe the public wants its representatives to do something, to fix problems, and that if they can compromise and show the American people both sides are willing to give, something can be done to help the economy, get people back to work and start the long process of dealing with entitlement spending and rising healthcare costs. Sounds good, doesn't it?
What's really happening is that Obama and the Democrats have seen lately that Rand Paul and a band of limited government conservatives have again touched a nerve in the American public, and Obama's plan to push Democrats into control of the House in 2014 had to be adjusted. Obama sees that he has to create a deeper divide in the GOP. Also having dinner with Obama during this food fest last week was Bill Clinton, and surely Clinton talked with Obama about the deep political play that Clinton was so expert at executing. I suspect that Obama is in the process of coopting GOP Centrists. Centrists have revealed their plans all along as they've criticized and ridiculed their own base.
Last week when Rand Paul became the political talk of the nation and the world when he filibustered the nomination of John Brennan and gave a long, long speech regarding limits on power, John McCain and Lindsey Graham shot Paul down. Many Democrats, though, agreed with Paul, so what better time for Obama to reach out to the insecure Centrists than after the very popular Paul filibuster. The Centrists believe what Scarborough talked about this morning -- that the country wants compromise and that a Grand Bargain is the only way. Centrists believe this will make them look empowered and serious, and it will make the Tea Partiers look like radical obstructionists. While GOP Centrists are more concerned with gaining domination of the Republican Party than defeating Obama's agenda, Obama will play them for fools.
Obama's creating the path for a deeper divide in the GOP, bringing the Centrists to compromise on budget concerns and marketing it as a Great Solution to gridlock. What will likely happen is that both parties will agree to close loopholes and eliminate subsidies that bring in a lot more tax dollars immediately, then they'll agree on some long term plan to deal with entitlements in the future. As always, taxes will go up and cuts in spending will be put off, and the cuts will not happen if history is our guide. Reagan made the same Grand Bargain, and the spending cuts didn't happen, although taxes happened right away.
Are limited government conservatives strong enough to block this Grand Bargain? I don't think so. Boehner will be pressured to move it forward, and, with all the pressure from the Senate, the administration and the media, there'll be enough Republicans who cave to get it passed in the House. I hope I'm wrong. We don't need higher taxes, more government spending and greater intervention in the economy -- we need the opposite. We need lower taxes and a hands off policy regarding the economy, with much effort to rollback the economy destroying regulations that have been rolling out of government non-stop.