It’s not really about policy, you see. It’s about who is perceived to be crying uncle. And in GOP world, no matter how much a Democrat offers up in tax and spending cuts, unless they are capitulating to a Republican plan to slash spending and cut government without any compromise, it’s just not a win.
This is an interesting insight into what they want, actually. And if it weren’t for this, the President (and now the Democrats) could probably have mitigated this a bit by fighting like hell for a clean debt ceiling and then giving in at the end instead of constantly “offering” what they thought the Republicans wanted only to have them up the ante:
"Obama’s political advisers have long believed that securing such an agreement would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president’s standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and who say reining in the nation’s debt is a high priority. In many ways, it has been a remarkable transformation for a Democratic president who had made the centerpiece of his first year in office a massive spending bill to boost the economy and the expansion of health insurance. The risk for Obama now is that his pursuit of a far-reaching package could deeply disappoint his Democratic allies who believe he may be giving away too much."
His need to take credit for the greatest spending cuts in history has pushed the Republicans to ever more excessive demands in order to make him cry Uncle — which is really all they care about. Perhaps if he were just a little bit less accommodating they would have been more inclined to take yes for an answer.
But sadly, when both sides want to be seen as the greatest spending cutters in history it becomes a race to the bottom and that’s what happened here.
"It’s a political and policy gamble — the idea that people would welcome a large deal when it required middle-class Americans to sacrifice, even down the road, at a time when they have fewer resources,"; said Neera Tanden, chief operating officer at the Center for American Progress and former domestic policy adviser in the Obama administration.
Administration officials said the shift fits with Obama’s vision of what his presidency should look like.
“The president ran for the office to bring both parties together to solve big problems. That’s what he is trying to do here, even if it comes with political pain,” Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, said in an e-mail.
I suppose “political pain” is one way to describe it.