But yesterday Klein got something absolutely right.
When you drill down to the granular policy level, Republicans aren’t sure what Republicans want. Democrats complain that the Republican offers are bare of policy detail. They lay down targets — say, $600 billion in health savings — but say nothing about how those targets will be achieved...The reason the administration is "a bit agog at this approach" is that there is not an ounce of pragmatism in what the Republicans are doing - its all partisan nonsense. For example, everyone who's actually run the numbers on lowering the age of Medicare eligibility knows that it does almost nothing to reduce spending. What's happening here is that the Republicans are reaching for something - anything - that will give them a "win" in this battle with the White House.
The administration is a bit agog at this approach: If you don’t know how you’re going to hit your target, how can you possibly know whether your target is reasonable? It’s like buying a house with the expectation that you’ll figure out how to pay for it later.
This is important context for the role the Medicare eligibility age is playing in these discussions. Though it’s emerged, alongside chained-CPI, as the GOP’s top ask in the negotiations, it’s disconnected from any larger theory about how to slow the rise in health-care costs. There’s no particular conservative — or even non-conservative — policy goal that raising the Medicare eligibility age advances.
We've seen the President exploit that tendency of Republicans over and over again. The perfect example was the deal he negotiated with them on the 2011 budget when they were threatening a government shut-down.
Republicans and President Obama have been hailing last week’s shutdown-averting government funding deal as the “largest spending cut in history,” but as details about the package emerged, analysts realized that deal’s supporters were greatly overselling the purported $38.5 billion in cuts. And today, the Congressional Budget Office finds that the deal would shave just $352 million from the deficit in the next six months — “less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in claimed savings,” the AP reports.What the Republicans did that time was the same thing they're doing now - lay down a target, but have no idea about how to get there. That gave the President the opportunity to fill in the details with spending cuts that they could claim as a victory - but didn't really have much of an impact.
The way I see it - the Republicans are too lazy and ideological to do the hard stuff...working through the details. That gives our pragmatic President the edge - every time. I expect that once again he'll exploit that advantage.