The give and take that's supposed to be part of any negotiation appears, publicly at least, to be mostly a one-way affair in the talks about avoiding the pending “fiscal cliff.”
Republicans who've long held firm against raising taxes on any Americans are showing a willingness to allow some increases. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said the GOP should agree now to extend the Bush-era tax rates for the middle class and fight later over rates for the wealthy. Few in the House caucus agreed, but you can't fault a guy for trying.
In exchange for some revenue increases, Republicans have said they'd like to see trimming or cost-saving reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But these ideas have been flatly rejected by Democrats, who apparently want the GOP to give ground but aren't willing to respond in kind.
Just last year during budget negotiations, President Barack Obama indicated he was open to tweaking those programs. But since winning re-election, the president has spent much of his time simply stumping for the idea of raising tax rates on the wealthy.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said this week that the Nov. 6 elections “spoke very strongly about the fact that the American people don't want to cut these programs ...” That's an interesting takeaway from an election Obama won by just 2 percent of the popular vote, and that left the House and Senate as they had been — with Republicans in control of the former and Democrats leading the latter.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said he has detected “a certain cockiness” among Democrats that “is really astounding to me.”
No one will feel very cocky if these talks break down and worst-case economic scenarios are realized. Obama said Wednesday that, “I'll go anywhere and I'll do whatever it takes to get this done.” We'll see if he backs up those words with actions.