For the Republicans it is all or nothing on taxes. Either they get an extension of the Bush tax breaks on income over $250,000 per year or they will not support a continuation of the Democratic-supported tax breaks on income under $250,000 per year. As DougJ points out, the Republicans are engaging in Soviet style negotiations. (I’ve often pointed out other comparisons between the authoritarian right and the old USSR here). Steve Benen points out how it is impossible to compromise with these guys.
Even many people who generally support the Republican Party, but who are not totally bat-shit crazy, see the problem. For example, David Brooks recently said:
And my problem with the Republican Party right now, including Paul [Ryan], is that if you offered them 80-20, they say no. If you offered them 90-10, they’d say no. If you offered them 99-1 they’d say no. And that’s because we’ve substituted governance for brokerism, for rigidity that Ronald Reagan didn’t have.
And to me, this rigidity comes from this polarizing world view that they’re a bunch of socialists over there. You know, again, I’ve spent a lot of time with the president. I’ve spent a lot of time with the people around him. They’re liberals! … But they’re not idiots. And they’re not Europeans, and they don’t want to be a European welfare state. … It’s American liberalism, and it’s not inflexible.
All true except Brooks left out the fact that Republicans are likely to even reject a Democratic bill which gives them 100 percent of what they initially asked for because their real goal is to deny the Democrats any political victories. If offered everything they wanted they would just change the goal posts and attack their initial position. We’ve seen this with many elements of health care reform with Republicans initially supporting measures such as mandates, an insurance exchange, and end of life counseling, but then attacking the same ideas when in a Democratic bill.
It is unfortunate that, while far better on public policy, the Democrats are out of their league in the spin wars. If the Democrats could compete with the Republicans here, we’d be hearing endless attacks not only of the inflexibility of the other side but of how the Republicans are denying the middle class tax cuts. Of course the Democrats are also the party which gave the vast majority of Americans a tax cut and have been powerless to stop the mindless zombies in the tea party movement from protesting against them for over-taxing them. They are also the party which saved the automobile industry and lost Michigan to the Republicans.
There are two general reasons for this. One is simply that the Democrats are not as good as Republicans when it gets to political argument and propaganda. Secondly, Democrats do not have a friendly news media in their pocket as the Republicans have. Despite GOP attempts to play the refs by complaining of non-existent liberal bias, the media disproportionally leans to the right. Republicans can spread their talking points by initially feeding them to their house organ (F0x) from where they are picked up by the conservative-leaning legitimate news media. In contrast, what there is of left-leaning news media is independent and is not about to blindly repeat the Democratic talking points.