What will Obama do now?

Earlier this week I linked to a really nice piece by Chait on how Obama really needs to force Republicans to put specifics on the table about what they insist on cutting in order to pass the debt ceiling increase.  Once those specific cuts are out there, there’s no way there’s not huge blowback against the Republicans.  Naturally, they are therefore hesitant to actually get specific.  This Post article on McConnell’s latest suggestions really makes the point:

The top Senate Republican sought Thursday to clarify his party’s stance on Medicare heading into high-stakes talks with the White House, telling President Obama he wants “significant” changes to the program in exchange for lifting the legal limit on government borrowing.

After the entire Senate Republican caucus met with Obama at the White House, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said he would not insist on a controversial House GOP plan that would partly privatize the popular health program for the elderly. But with Medicare and Medicaid projected to be the major drivers of future borrowing, he said tighter eligibility requirements and reduced benefits must be part of any deal.

“The things I’m talking about have already been studied to death. We don’t need any more hearings,” McConnell said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “We know what the options are. The only question remaining is what will we pick up and agree to on a bipartisan basis.”

Notice how he wants “significant” changes, but still refuses to truly get specific.   And, of course, he wants it to be “bipartisan.”  As Chait points out, the Republicans are absolutely desperate for the political cover only Obama can give to them by proposing the specifics himself.  Now, the question is, does Obama actually give them this cover or force them to truly lay their cards on the table.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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