Why debt-reduction talks always fail

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Republicans demand debt reduction; Democrats present a moderate plan intended to garner bipartisan support; Republicans reject it and present a partisan plan as an alternative. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This week, Democrats on the so-called super-committee crafted a $3 trillion debt-reduction package, far exceeding the panel’s mandated target. Though the details of the plan are a little sketchy, Dems were apparently offering a two-to-one deal to the GOP: Democrats would accept $2 trillion in spending cuts (including entitlement cuts Dems don’t like) in exchange for $1 trillion in tax revenue. The package also included funds for immediate job creation, the top Democratic priority.

It was intended as a constructive proposal that requires sacrifice and compromise on both sides. Republicans didn’t see it that way, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this morning rejected the moderate Dem plan as unacceptable.

And that, of course, led to the counteroffer.

Republicans on the deficit supercommittee have presented a counteroffer to Democrats that would reduce the deficit by $2.2 trillion over a decade.

The GOP plan includes no tax increases, but does include up to $640 billion in new revenue. Some of this revenue is from increased fees, and some is from expected gains in tax revenue from an economy the GOP expects will improve from its plan.

Spending cuts in the proposal include $600 billion in changes to Medicare and other healthcare entitlements, and $250 billion in discretionary spending cuts.

Please. No money for job creation, no tax increases on anyone, and revenue that will magically appear just as soon as Republicans take money out of the economy through spending cuts. This, GOP officials argue, should be enough to lead Dems to accept cuts to Medicare.

Remember, Republicans said the Democratic plan is “unserious.”

One Democratic aide told The Hill, “Their offer is a joke. Democrats came to the table with an offer that had serious skin in the game for both parties. Rather than offering real solutions, Republicans are just doing more of the same posturing they do every time they walk away from efforts to constructively tackle this crisis.”

In other words, it’s just another day for the most ridiculous congressional caucus in modern American history.