Senate Democrats just wrapped up a meeting with OMB Director Jack Lew in the Capitol and they are not pleased. All indications are that the reports Dan cites are more or less accurate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told reporters that a call came in from the White House during the meeting to announce a “potential agreement” with House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).
Reid appeared to confirm reports that the proposed deal would not raise significant revenue, at least in the near term, and indicated that he didn’t think this would be acceptable to Democrats in congress. “The president always talked about balance, there had to be some fairness in this,” he said, grimly. “This can’t be all cuts. There has to be balance, there has to be revenue and cuts.”
So, provided the reports are generally true, is Obama really willing to sell all Congressional Democrats down the river (apart from the moderates facing reelection in 2012) just to win another term? I think the answer is self-evident. Then again, this could all be a carefully crafted ploy by Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to boost Obama’s deal-making cred by giving the appearance that he’s upsetting members of his own party, knowing all along that this deal is no better for Republicans than the disappointing “budget deal” negotiated in April to avoid a government shutdown.
Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) was unusually animated, presumably because the White House has just licked all the frosting off the deficit-reduction cake the Gang of Six has spent the last seven months baking. He refused to discuss the nature of Lew’s presentation and snapped at one reporter for not listening. Indeed, Conrad could hardly contain his bitterness at the White House for stealing the Gang’s thunder and trying to take credit for all their hard work. “We’ve spent months negotiating an agreement that has bipartisan support,” he grumbled. “No one else has, so somebody show me the plan. I’m waiting to see it.”
When asked whether or not he was encouraged, Conrad refused to comment.