TPM Reader SR offers below one interpretation of the debt deal trial balloons floated over the past 18 hours. The gist of SR’s argument is that Democrats are going through the motions of looking as reasonable and compromising as possible because they know no deal is possible and want to fortify their political position that the GOP is to blame for default and economic collapse. It’s a theory worth considering. I’m not convinced that’s what’s happening here, but I remain open to the possibility. As SR suggests, it’s a frightening possibility:
The outrage over the nebulous suggestions that some kind of cuts to entitlements may be on the table is predictable. But I’m afraid people are missing something really important here.
The fact that someone is floating the idea that entitlement cuts are on the table and Pelosi and other senior Congressional Democrats inside the negotiations aren’t going absolutely bonkers suggests an even scarier possibility. Specifically, it suggests that they’ve (very reasonably) concluded that the Republicans are so far around the bend that no deal is possible and, at this point, the “negotiations” are nothing more than mutual positioning to try to win what is seen as an inevitable post-apocalypse blame game.
Maybe, they’re also holding on to some forlorn hope that after the talks well and truly collapse, there will be just enough sane and/or corporately owned Republicans in the House to join Democrats in voting for a last ditch clean debt increase, that Boehner will allow that vote to occur, and that there will be enough sane or corporately owned Republicans in the Senate to stave off a filibuster.
But in the main, I am really, really, really afraid the Democrats have (again, very reasonably) concluded that the Republicans believe they will be primaried if they don’t engineer a default but they can beat Obama and the Democrats in the general if doing so creates a depression.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.