The President repeats that both parties must abandon their sacred cows in budget negotiations. Republicans, he argues, will have to agree to tax increases as part of a deficit reduction package. Republicans are being characterized as intransigent and extreme for refusing to do so.

What, then, should we conclude about the President’s unwillingness to consider reductions to the trillion dollars of health spending increases enacted in last year’s health laws?

I understand that in the Biden-led negotiations, Leader Cantor suggested cutting this new spending. The VP and Congressional Democrats said no, as did Leader Cantor and Senator Kyl when Democrats proposed tax increases. I also understand the White House refused to consider any cuts to this trillion dollars of new spending. The White House may agree to a few billion dollars of tweaks to some of the marginal programs created in those laws, but the President has ruled out any changes to the core new entitlement spending.

Yes, I understand that CBO scored the Affordable Care Acts as a slight net deficit reduction (setting aside certain gimmicks). That does not, however preclude negotiating revisions which leave the spending cuts and tax increases from that law in place and cut or even repeal the new spending.

Here’s the President today:

THE PRESIDENT: And it is possible for us to construct a package that would be balanced, would share sacrifice, would involve both parties taking on their sacred cows, …

We have agreed to a series of spending cuts that will make the government leaner, meaner, more effective, more efficient, and give taxpayers a greater bang for their buck.  That includes defense spending.  That includes health spending.  It includes some programs that I like very much, and we — be nice to have, but that we can’t afford right now.

Yet the President has been unwilling to negotiate cuts in the massive new increase in health entitlement spending enacted last year.

How, then, is this different from Republicans refusing to negotiate on tax increases?

(photo credit: Markku Åkerfelt)