Democrats Suddenly Excited About Eating Their Peas

Both Democrats and Republicans will need to “eat their peas” and agree to Obama’s grand budget compromise, the president said during a press conference earlier today. But now that GOP leaders rejected the proposed politically-suicidal tax increases, Democratic Party leaders have suddenly become eager to make the “tough choices” necessary to strike a deal:

Democrats who just days ago were pushing back on the potential terms for a “grand bargain” to shrink the deficit now claim they wanted that deal all along, a position they made clear after House Speaker John Boehner and fellow Republicans yanked it off the table. …

One reason may be because these “tough choices” sound remarkably similar to Obama’s budget proposal from earlier this year, Yuval Levin writes:

Simply put, President Obama has offered what amounts to his own budget proposal from earlier this year (as amended by his April speech) and called it a big bipartisan deal. But what is bipartisan about it? What it is in the “big” deal outline that was in the Republican budget but not in Obama’s budget? Nothing.

But whether Democrats are on board with the president’s deal or not, it’s politically expedient for them to act as if they are. Republicans have little choice but to oppose the tax hikes, so it isn’t a real incentive for Democrats to also fight the president’s plan.

From Obama’s press conference today, we can see that the White House’s strategy on the debt ceiling is chiefly political. If the GOP opposes the president’s plan, Democrats will attempt to saddle them with the blame for the fallout. But if they agree to massive tax hikes, they’ll outrage their base and give the Democrats cover for politically unpopular tax increases.

The president is once again trying to paint the GOP as the “party of no.” This strategy backfired on the Democrats during the Obamacare debate, and there’s a good chance this can happen again. In the long term, it’s better for the Republicans to take the heat right now than to make decisions that will have lasting political repercussions with the conservative base.