Meeting In The Middle

How Ezra Klein understands Obama’s initial fiscal cliff proposal:

Republicans are frustrated at the new Obama they’re facing: The Obama who refuses to negotiate with himself. That’s what you’re really seeing in this “proposal.” Previously, Obama’s pattern had been to offer plans that roughly tracked where he thought the compromise should end up. The White House’s belief was that by being solicitous in their policy proposals, they would win goodwill on the other side, and even if they didn’t, the media would side with them, realizing they’d sought compromise and been rebuffed. They don’t believe that anymore.

Tomasky’s related thoughts:

If the White House had instead yesterday offered a modest set of specific entitlement cuts and domestic spending cuts, that would have started the negotiations on GOP turf, since those are the two things the GOP wants. This of course is exactly what Obama used to do: As in last year’s debt negotiations, he started by offering the Republicans half a loaf, and the compromise ended up at 75 or 80 percent of the GOP loaf, and Obama looked weak and his voters were terribly dispirited. it took months for him and them to recover. He seems to have learned the lesson that that didn’t work so well.

But he just got re-elected. It’s a classic time for magnanimity – and yet he began the critical negotiations by poking the defeated GOP in the eye. This is not the new politics. It’s the old partisanship. I hope it works. I fear it won’t.