As predicted, the recent budget deal and the Ryan plan have the Democrats wishing in the direst way they’d hopped on Simpson-Bowles. But among Democrats, Simpson-Bowles was dead on arrival: There simply is no plan that credibly controls spending that Democrats are inclined to accept. Now that Republicans have proposed something well beyond the Simpson-Bowles framework, Democrats are ready to celebrate a plan that they dismissed out of hand — “simply unacceptable,” the lady called it.
Ryan and the Republicans will accept the strongest deficit deal they can get; Obama and the Democrats will accept the strongest deficit deal they are forced to: That’s the basic dynamic that shapes this debate between now and November 2012. They have no credible budget plan — they didn’t even pass a budget last time around. Welcome to the Party of No, Mr. President; Mrs. Pelosi will show you the secret handshake.
The Democrats want 2012 to be about anything other than deficit-reduction. Expect an onslaught on the social-issues front, from abortion subsidies to gay marriage. Conservatives should not let them change the subject.