David Brooks suggested an offer for Republicans to make as an alternative grand bargain: basically, leave taxes out, run higher short-term deficits than Republicans say they want, cut Social Security and Medicare spending now, but accept the discretionary spending that Democrats want. Matt Yglesias says that it would be a hard offer for Democrats to deal with.
I suspect that what Yglesias is concerned about is (from his perspective) the oddity of Democratic insistence on raising taxes, rather than on protecting programs they care about, as their bottom line in budget negotiations.
But there's nothing here for Democrats to worry about, because there's no chance of GOP buy-in to this sort of offer. It's an offer that does a great deal for David Brooks, but not for the actual Republican Party.
The thing is: I'm pretty sure that Brooks really does care about long-term budget deficits. His plan, which entails meaningful spending cuts on Medicare, would help with that. But I don't think war-on-budget Republicans care at all about actual budget deficits; what they want to do is to cut spending on programs they don't like, and preferably eliminate those programs completely. By that standard, the Brooks program is at best beside the point, and more likely a disaster for them.
And that's the generous reading! The other way to think about today's GOP is that it really doesn't care about policy outcomes very much at all; it just cares about opposing the Democratic president. If that's the case, then any "grand bargain" that Obama is willing to do will be automatically ruled out by definition, with only RINOs willing to do them.
This isn't a criticism of Brooks: the GOP needs more real proposals, and his is (at least within the limits of an op-ed) a real proposal. But I will say one thing about the "post-policy" GOP. One of the ideas Brooks would like to see funded in his entitlements-for-discretionary swap would be a "national service program." But that's nothing more than a great example of what I'm talking about. If I recall correctly, the idea of a national service program was floated by conservatives in the 1980s, adopted and implemented by Bill Clinton and the Democrats in the 1990s -- after which it was full-out opposed by conservatives for the remainder of Clinton's terms. And then, once Clinton was gone, it returned as something (some) conservatives sort of liked the idea of, but no one in Congress, as far as I know, has actually tried to do anything about it.
At any rate: no, I don't think that Democrats need to worry that Republicans will make an offer anything like this one.