The Republicans’ Reality Check

Chait believes that GOP obstruction has started to weaken:

The bursting of the bubble of unreality enveloping the whole Republican party has given Obama’s victory all that much more shocking force. A couple months before the election, when reporting my article on the post-election economic agenda, I spoke with Tumblr_md8wkaGhJp1rkd8gso1_1280a high-level Republican staffer in Congress. Two things became clear to me. First, he and his colleagues had done very little thinking about how they would respond to a victorious Obama and his newfound leverage. Second, their fallback position would be to replay the approach they used at the end of 2010, insisting on extending every penny of the Bush tax cuts and assuming Obama would blink.

I suspect that both the jolt of Obama’s victory and the steadfastness of his insistence that he would not extend the tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year has shaken loose some of those assumptions. It’s far, far from certain, and perhaps not even likely, that the Republicans will even cut a deal before January. Even if the Washington party decides to cut its losses and deal with Obama, it will have to reckon with the tea party, the likely revolt of which could easily send Republicans scurrying back to their bunker. Still, at this early date, the basic Republican strategy toward Obama appears to be in flux.

Which is deeply encouraging. If they were attached to debt-reduction rather than partisanship, they would see they have in Obama an almost perfect Democratic president. He does care about the debt and has always said he does. He is prepared to deal on entitlements. He wants bipartisan cred to define the beginning of his second term, rather than gridlock that defined the last two years of his first. The GOP needs to give on the top rate – but then compete with the Dems on loophole reduction for the wealthy as a way to remove the taint they now have of being entirely pro-super-rich. It's an opportunity. But in the past they have never missed a chance to miss one.

Look: he's never running again. Do a deal with him for the sake of the country and your own brand. If not now, when?

(Photo: from the tumbr White People Mourning Romney.)