On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the outgoing chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, made a proposal to solve the “fiscal cliff.” The proposal isn’t going anywhere, but its specifics explain something important about the White House’s negotiating strategy.
“My own belief,” Conrad said, “is what we ought to do is take Speaker Boehner’s last offer, the president’s last offer, split the difference, and that would be a package of about $2.6 trillion.”
Chris Wallace, to his credit, pressed Conrad for details. And Conrad provided them. “The spending cuts would be $1.45 trillion. The revenue would be $1.15 trillion. So, you see there, that’s a combination of $2.6 trillion.”
This in an amazing offer for a Democrat to make. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has already accepted that “a balanced deal,” by his definition, would include a ratio of 1:1 spending cuts to tax increases. Indeed, his second offer included $1 trillion in tax increases in return for $1 trillion in spending cuts ($1.3 trillion if you count interest). By averaging Boehner’s second offer with Obama’s third offer — that is to say, by starting from a baseline that includes more rounds of Democratic concessions than Republican concessions — Conrad is proposing a more lopsided deal than Boehner is currently asking for.
To recap, we have sitting Democratic senators going on national TV and blowing huge holes in the President's position, with this "If I were President" crap. You're not. Stop sabotaging your party, moron.
To make it clear just how much of a meathead Conrad is, he's giving Boehner and the Republicans a better deal than Boehner himself offered, for no other discernible reason than for the political edification of Kent Conrad as kingmaker, in his wild dreams of "The Senator who saved America from the Fiscal Cliff."
If I'm the White House, I'm calling up Conrad's office and telling him if he ever pulls this crap again, his head is going home to North Dakota about 2 weeks ahead of the rest of him.
Nonsense like this is exactly why President Obama never had 60 reliable votes in the Senate. Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman...the list goes on. Too many Senators thought they knew better than "that there Obama boy."
All of them, including Conrad, are gone for good as of January 3. President Obama is still there. There's a lesson there to be learned that won't be.