JONATHAN CHAIT JULY 21, 2011
A colleague emailed me about this, and I honestly thought it was a joke. But no, this is in the New York Times:
But the president and Mr. Boehner were moving ahead with their plan, aides said, trying to agree on matters like how much new revenue would be raised, how much would go to deficit reduction, how much to lower tax rates and, perhaps most critical, how to enforce the requirement for new tax revenue through painful consequences for both parties should they be unable to overhaul the tax code in 2012.
The White House wants a trigger that would raise taxes on the wealthy; Mr. Boehner wants the potential penalty for inaction to include repeal of the Obama health care law’s mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance after 2014.
Okay, let's review here. Boehner is getting Obama to give him cover for extremely unpopular cuts to Medicare and Social Security that Republicans have no chance of enacting otherwise. Obama is getting Boehner to agree to higher taxes on the rich, which are wildly popular and scheduled to occur anyway. On top of that, Obama is agreeing to get this revenue not by restoring Clinton-era tax rates but by reforming the tax code, something Republicans claim to favor anyway.
And then, on top of that, Boehner is demanding that the penalty for failing to institute this reform include a completely unrelated demand to repeal the individual mandate. What kind of incentive is that?
I would say that Boehner is throwing out maximalist demands he knows will never be accepted in order to make his other extreme demands appear comparatively reasonable. But it's getting harder and harder to identify a demand so extreme Obama can be assured of ruling it out of hand.