It’s hard to tell from their actions.
Since having their sails trimmed in the November election, House Republicans have proposed a number of ways to avoid the year-end’s fiscal cliff – the combination of massive tax increases on all taxpaying Americans and blunt across-the-board spending cuts that would endanger defense readiness.
House Speaker John Boehner has proposed several concessions – including heretofore unacceptable rate increases on top wage earners. Boehner’s willingness to compromise on taxes without getting Democrats to budge on spending has even angered his base.
Yet, the White House keeps moving the goal posts – and this week Democrats even rejected a Boehner “Plan B” that Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi herself had floated earlier this year.
Democrats now claim that Pelosi was only fooling when she made the proposal to raise rates on millionaires earlier this year. And they claim that Boehner’s proposal is also a ploy – even though taxing millionaires and billionaires is what the president based his entire campaign on.
It’s hard to negotiate with a party that finds its own past proposals unacceptable.
We hope the Democrats aren’t simply negotiating in bad faith in an effort to bring on the fiscal cliff – only to then blame Republicans and score political points when we go over it.
Democrats may realize, cynically enough, that most Americans won’t be watching the daily details of these negotiations – and therefore may not notice the games being played.
Republicans have signaled a willingness to raise income tax rates on the country’s top wage earners, even with no corresponding and specific spending cuts. That’s a huge compromise.
But are Democrats really interested in a compromise?