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Boehner Puts Chill on Happy Talk on Fiscal Slope, as Both Sides Jockey For Position

John Boehner emerged from a meeting with White House negotiators on finding a solution to the fiscal slope expressing “disappointment” with the proceedings. It sounds like Boehner wants the White House to propose both sides of the deal and let him sit on high and vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Boehner, addressing reporters after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Capitol, called on the White House to “get serious” about the talks and warned of a “real danger” that Jan. 1 would come without a deal if President Obama did not offer up specific spending cuts he would be willing to accept.

“Despite claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Boehner said. “Secondly, no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House in the last two weeks.

Let’s just parse this out. The White House has already put together the tax side of the plan. They have a set of proposals in hand from the Obama Administration’s FY2013 budget on spending, which are fairly detailed. Boehner thinks he can get away with bringing nothing to this table, so he can accuse Democrats of proposing tax hikes and cuts to programs like Medicare in the aftermath. This tracks with what we heard earlier today.

Republicans are hopelessly conflicted here. For the last few years they have demagogued the Democrats over Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act, which were mostly cuts to providers and the end of overpayments to Medicare Advantage. They saw difficulties when they proposed wholesale overhauls of Medicare, and they paid a price for it at the polls. They don’t have a sense of what they want to do on Medicare which would not enrage their increasingly graying base, so they want the White House to do the work for them.

Not that Democrats aren’t trying the same trick here. They want Republicans nailed down on taxes and bringing up what spending reforms and cuts they want. So that’s where we’re at.

Alternatively, the two sides could just try to grow the economy?

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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