(official White House photo; credit: Pete Souza)
Obama offered a grand deal -- huge cuts across the board, including substantial rollbacks of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits -- but including the suspension of economically distorting tax benefits for the rich and highly profitable firms, particularly ethanol and oil, that were gorging themselves on public dollars.
David Brooks was right in stating the obvious in his provocative essay "The Mother of All No-Brainers" -- that the Republicans had won but are so paralyzed by Tea Party ideologues that they can't close the deal. Republicans have set the terms of debate, forced the Democrats to promise a sacrifice of holy commitments to their base, and would have been able to steal back the mantle of "fiscal conservatism" after Bill Clinton became the balanced budget guy and George W. Bush blew the hole out of the economy's bottom.
Now, John Boehner is showing that he is trapped in an ideological bind with his own constituents and that Obama is too overwhelming for him. The big deal won't work, Boehner says, because Boehner can't get his caucus to do the deal of the era because it involves minor revenue increases. They'd rather default on the national debt and undermine global trust in the United States as a political stunt.