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Moving Right by David Atkins

Moving Right

by David Atkins

Ezra Klein has a good piece about the ill-fated Supercommittee. Upshot? The entire Overton Window was shifted rightward, with the Dems moving right and the GOP moving even further right:

If by "at fault" we mean "unwilling to compromise," we can do better than listen to the self-serving remarks of the players. We can look hard at the movement in the actual plans. Before the supercommittee, there were the Obama-Boehner negotiations. And we have a pretty good idea of the plan that almost -- but didn't quite -- clear those discussions. We also have the deals on the plans that were offered in the supercommittee. And if you look at the numbers, it's pretty easy to see which party moved further towards a compromise.

Hint: It's the one that named Sen. Max Baucus as one of its six key negotiators.

The final Boehner plan envisioned tax reform that would generate $800 billion in new revenues and bring the top rate down to 35 percent. In the supercommittee, the highest Republicans ever got on taxes was the Toomey plan's $300 billion, with envisioned a top rate of 28 percent. So on taxes, it's fairly clear: The supercommittee Republicans were far to the right of Boehner.

On the Democratic side, Obama eventually insisted on somewhere near $1.2 trillion in tax reform or, if the revenues were to move lower, on much less in entitlement cuts. In the supercommittee, the Democrats offered a plan (pdf) with less than a trillion dollars in tax reform -- and more entitlement reforms than Obama was willing to agree to.

Boehner had about $150 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts in his opening bid in the negotiations with the president, and he went down from there. In the supercommittee, Baucus offered $200 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts. Supercommittee Republicans were far beyond that, however. If you read Hensarling's op-ed today explaining why the committee failed, he complains that Democrats were too focused on tax increases but also that they refused to gut the Affordable Care Act or embrace "architectural changes" like turning Medicare into a premium-support system. You can support those policies or oppose them. They're not exactly compromise plans, however.

Frankly, it's hard to find even one area in which supercommittee Republicans offered a substantially new compromise -- or even matched what Boehner offered Obama.

Not that the media will cover it as a broad, bipartisan capitulation to the right-wing. In fact, they will fight to do anything but. Via DougJ at Balloon Juice, this bit from Paul Kane from a Kaplan reporter forum is really something:

Reader: Paul, I’m guessing you won’t be sympathetic to the following point, but I’ll put it out there anyway. Most reporting on the supercommittee—like most reporting on the deficit—reflects an acceptance of a basic fallacy. Whenever there is an impasse, there seems to be a desire to blame both sides equally, on the theory that if only Democrats would concede more, Republicans would reciprocate (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). Yes, Democrats have drawn lines in the sand, but as Greg Sargent and other commentators have documented, when you compare the specifics, there is no factual basis for blaming both parties equally. So my question is, why does the Post’s coverage do so anyway, either explicitly or implicitly?

Paul Kane: Yeah, you’re right. I think this point is just absurd and ridiculous. This is a big thing among folks calling it “moral equivalence” (Fallows, Ornstein) and others calling it the “cult of balance” (Krugman).

It’s just stupid. If you want someone to tell you that Republicans stink, read opinion pages. Read blogs. Also, the underlying sentiment on the left is that this is the real reason why things went wrong in 2010: That the mainstream media is to blame. Sorry, I think that’s the sorta head-in-sand outlook that leads to longer term problems for a movement.

Greg is a fine writer. He’s an opinion writer, in the opinion section of the web site. I encourage you to keep reading him. And I encourage you to keep reading the news coverage, which should always strive to present both sides of the story. If you really don’t want to hear anything about the other side of the story, I really do encourage you to stop reading the news section.


The country keeps moving farther and farther right, even as the traditional media painstakingly characterizes the problem as hyperpartisanship on both sides.