As the so-called super-committee inches closer to its deadline, talks on Capitol Hill continue to go nowhere fast. To understand the state of the negotiations, I’d recommend ignoring this Washington Post report.

The headline on reporter Lori Montgomery’s piece tells the reader: “Republicans offer tax deal to break debt impasse; Democrats dismiss it.” Here’s the lede:

Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.

The headline and lede make it seem as if GOP lawmakers are showing newfound flexibility and are finally willing to consider a more balanced approach to debt reduction, only to be rejected by Democrats.

That’s not even close to what happened.

Way down in the same article, in the 16th paragraph, the piece gets around to mentioning that Republican want to trade nearly $300 billion in new revenue for “permanently extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts past their 2012 expiration date, a move that would increase deficits by about $4 trillion over the next decade.”

That’s the kind of detail that more or less debunks the article’s headline and lede. Think about it: as part of a debt-reduction deal, Republicans want to increase tax revenue by less than $300 billion and cut tax revenue by roughly $4 trillion.

In what universe does it make sense to tell news consumers that Republicans have offered a “tax deal to break the debt impasse”? How does this GOP offer represent a “retreat from their hard-line stance” on taxes?

Republican lawmakers are playing foolish games, hoping to give the appearance of flexibility. When the super-committee process breaks down, the GOP wants to be in a position to say, “Well, we tried to negotiate and make credible offers, but Democrats wouldn’t cooperate.”

And while some in the media are apparently prepared to go along with this, the facts speak for themselves: Democrats made an overly-generous offer to Republicans, in which Dems gave away far too much, but which was quickly rejected without cause anyway. Republicans’ debt-reduction offer, meanwhile, features $4 trillion in tax cuts that make the problem worse, not better.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.