Wanting and expecting revenues

Early last week, President Obama didn’t leave himself much in the way of wiggle room: he won’t accept a debt-reduction deal that only includes spending cuts. Today, there are a variety of reports from Capitol Hill suggesting the White House is no longer sticking to this commitment.

This afternoon, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said those reports are wrong.

“Anyone reporting a $3 trillion deal without revenues is incorrect. POTUS believes we need a balanced approach that includes revenues.”

I suspect Harry Reid will be glad to hear it.

Emerging from a raucous Democratic Caucus meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama were working towards a “potential agreement” on taxes and spending, adding that the proposal must include revenue raisers to garner his party’s support.

In a sign that Democrats are upset about the direction of the talks, Reid laid out a subtle warning to the president.

“But what I have to say is this: The president always talked about balance — that there had to be some fairness in this — that this can’t be all cuts that there has to be a balance,” he said. “That there has to be some revenue in the cuts, my caucus agrees with that — and hope the president sticks with that, and I’m confident he will.”

This may sound silly, but the word that stood out for me in that report was “raucous.” What that suggests to me is that the Senate Democrats got together, heard about a possible one-sided deal, and to put it mildly, expressed their displeasure.

Put it this way: if the rumors this afternoon were some kind of trial balloon, it’s safe to say Democrats wasted no time in grabbing their slingshots.

Here’s another theory: this was “Cut, Cap, and Balance” in reverse. Republicans made a show on Tuesday of demonstrating to Dems what they want in terms of a debt-reduction deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if some Democrats leaked word of a one-sided deal, waited for the inevitable uproar, and demonstrated to Republicans just how much overwhelming Democratic opposition there is to a spending-cuts-only proposition.