Today’s Republican Party thinks the key problem America faces is out-of-control entitlement spending. But cutting entitlement spending is unpopular and the GOP’s coalition relies heavily on seniors. And so they don’t want to propose entitlement cuts. If possible, they’d even like to attack President Obama for proposing entitlement cuts. But they also want to see entitlements cut and will refuse to solve the fiscal cliff or raise the debt ceiling unless there are entitlement cuts.Yup. As I said in my Salon column over the weekend (see how I'm sneaking that in here?), everything about the fiscal cliff should be very, very, easy to resolve. We're just talking budget and tax levels here; there's nothing in the category of abortion, or war-and-peace, that doesn't really take to compromise very easily. So we're right up against the deadline (of a sort) not just for the normal reason that both sides usually press their positions up to the end, but because the GOP position is such a mess to begin with. They never have reconciled all the things that they themselves support, and that makes it awfully hard to cut a deal with anyone else.
This is also (and sorry for keeping myself in this one so much) why I flipped out so much at Paul Ryan's Republican convention speech, in which he bashed Barack Obama for not supporting the exact same Simpson-Bowles agreement that Ryan himself opposed. There's just something massively irresponsible in the kinds of blame-shifting and responsibility-ducking and, with it, dishonesty, that the current GOP has at its apparently core. Especially when it comes to budget politics.
At any rate, Ezra gets it exactly right in his post. And: nice catch!