Right-wingers are in an uproar over the White House's budget offer, which John Boehner says left him "flabbergasted." Outraged pundits like Joe Scarborough, Charles Krauthammer, and Newt Gingrich are saying that Republicans should "walk away" from negotiations. Boehner has come close to that position himself, saying of the talks: "We're nowhere."
With all due respect, Sir: Speak for yourself.
Democrats are somewhere -- somewhere very specific. They're where the voters are, with a program that includes short-term stimulus spending and relatively modest tax increases for higher levels of income. And yet the Republicans are threatening to run from the will of the electorate, a will that was expressed very clearly this November.
But where, in the words of the old song, are they gonna run to?
The Scope of Their Defeat
A walkout would turn House Republicans into democracy's "runaway brides" -- except nobody asked for their hand. As a detailed analysis by David Wasserman of the Cook Report shows, the GOP didn't just lose the Presidential and Senatorial votes this year. They lost the popular vote for the House, too. To the extent that Republicans have any right to be at the negotiating table at all, it's as junior partners.
And yet we have reached the winter of Mr. Krauthammer's disrespectful discontent. "It's not just a bad deal," said Krauthammer, it's "really an insulting deal."
"Robert E. Lee was offered easier terms at Appomattox," Krauthammer added, "and he lost the Civil War."
Mr. Krauthammer might like to bone up on his American history: Lee's army was disbanded at the Appomattox courthouse, and all acts of insurrection ceased. It's true that his officers were allowed keep their horses and sidearms, and to return home ... but they were on parole.
Parole: That's a good way to look at the current state of the Republican Party. They lost the Presidency by 4,500,000 votes, the Senate by nearly 13 million votes -- and lost the House by 570,000 votes. Their influence over the Senate derives mainly from their routine abuse of Senatorial procedures, while their control of the House is the product of abusive gerrymandering.
And yet Krauthammer wasn't the only conservative in a snit. Another runaway Republican, Newt Gingrich, said the House GOP should "back out of all negotiating with Obama. And Joe Scarborough said Republicans should "just stop talking" with the President. Like Krauthammer, he considered the offer an "insult."
Somebody ought to review the election results with them.
Far from being an insult, the President's opening bid is reasonable and respectful. It includes $50 billion in stimulus spending in 2013, and continues stimulus-producing middle class tax cuts. It ends the higher-income tax breaks which have failed to provide jobs or growth, while depriving the government of funds which can be used to create jobs and provide important services. No Social Security cuts are offered.
In an ideal world, bolder spending and taxation initiatives would be on the table. But the President's proposal clearly reflects the will of the majority, as reflected at the ballot box and in our post-election polling.