To anyone paying attention during the last three years, the deficit-hawky idea that congressional Republican might even begin to entertain a “grand bargain” involving higher tax rates was never more than a fantasy. But as both sides prepare for new budget talks, Paul Ryan did us all the favor of putting grand bargain talk out of its misery right away:
Taking more from hardworking families just isn’t the answer. I know my Republican colleagues feel the same way. So I want to say this from the get-go: If this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere.
As Dave Weigel observes, this is precisely the position Ryan has taken since he first became a D.C. celebrity:
It’s no secret that Paul Ryan opposed the 2011 “grand bargain,” the unicornlike deal to raise some taxes, cut down entitlements, and pilot Americans back to the land of milk and honey. Ryan voted against the Simpson-Bowles commission plan. Ryan opposed the “Gang of Six” vision of cuts-n-revenue that emerged in the waning days of the debt fight. And Ryan opposed the Boehner-Obama negotiated settlement on the grounds that it would essentially re-elect the president and raise taxes.
So maybe congressional Ds and Rs and the White House can reach some mini-bargain that moves money around from entitlements to non-defense discretionary programs to the Pentagon to estimate-based pixie dust and back again. But that’s it.