GOP’s counter-offer in Fiscal Cliff Talks puts Obama in difficult position

After the ridiculous proposal put forth by the Obama administration concerning the so-called fiscal cliff, the Republicans returned fire with a proposal of their own.

In it, will be a proposed $800 billion in additional revenue – about half of what the president wants – and more substantive reforms to entitlement spending, although the GOP was careful not to go after any of the left’s sacred calves.

Democrats have been very clear that they would not sign any fiscal cliff policy that doesn’t increase rates on top earners, but there’s no clear evidence to support why that would be any different than other kinds of revenue outside of the fact that the left wants to punish success.

In the plan is also about $1.2 trillion in cuts including deeper cuts to Medicare than the president proposed and a change to how Social Security is calculated.

As the Business Insider points out, the plan is a legitimate compromise because the tax loop holes would disproportionately affect the wealthiest Americans, but also would give the GOP bigger cuts.

Not only is it a good sign for the negotiations given that the Republicans seemed to have backed off a more hard-line approach, or at least the appearance of one, but this plan will make it much harder for President Obama to stand firm on his insistence on raising taxes.

John Boehner and the Republicans have met President Obama exactly halfway on new revenues and the tax reform will impact top earners just like the Democrats want. The cuts to Medicare aren’t new, in fact, they’re part of the plan the White House has already outlined, the GOP just wants bigger cuts.

By approaching this from a more bi-partisan prospective – the framework is based on Democrat Erksine Bowles’ plan – Boehner has changed the playing field for the discussion.

The GOP has made it clear that they will not negotiate from the absurd position the Obama administration has taken to begin these discussions. By offering a legitimate counter to the president’s plan, Obama and the Democrats must now choose between looking like intransigent tax mongers or agreeing to change the game plan to the Republican framework.

But by giving the Republican framework a basis in a plan put forward by a Democrat, the latter is not quite as bitter a pill to swallow.

This is a rare moment, particularly in recent memory for the GOP, that the strategy and the policy are equally laudable. Hopefully it means a deal gets done, regardless of who gets to take the credit.

There is a chance, though, that it could backfire and incense the President along with his Democratic allies. Feeling cornered, the President could hold firm to his demands and allow a deal to go by the wayside until the sequester hits and politicians grow desperate allowing him to swoop in and appear the great bargainer.

For that to happen though, he’ll have to risk appearing uncompromising to start, something he’s accused the GOP of being for years. It seems more likely this will incite a brokered agreement that allows the left to cheer new revenues thanks to more tax revenue from the rich and the right to applaud austerity and entitlement reforms.

It’s a rare chance to have a political win-win.

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