Cliff Notes

You have to read the tea-leaves right now, but this struck me as interesting:

“Republicans want the president to own the whole offer upfront, on both the entitlement and the revenue side, and that’s not going to happen because the president is not going to negotiate with himself,” the official said. “There’s a standoff, and the staff hasn’t gotten anywhere. Rob Nabors [the White House negotiator], has been saying: ‘This is what we want on revenues on the down payment. What’s you guys’ ask on the entitlement side?’ And they keep looking back at us and saying: ‘We want you to come up with that and pitch us.’ That’s not going to happen.”

So both sides are still cowards when it comes to cutting and reforming entitlements, a critical element of any move back toward pre-Bush fiscal sanity. At some point, I think Obama needs to own the entitlement cuts – just as the GOP will have to own the tax increases. I'm not privy to the negotiations – and there are few who are – so I cannot know what the strategies currently are. But Obama cannot lead from behind on entitlements. He's a re-elected president who promised us he would tackle the hard problems – and this is a matter of compromise from his own party. Tick, tock.