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October 08, 2013 4:18 PM A Skewed Supercommittee

By Ed Kilgore

An area of the president’s comments at his presser that I missed when (partially) watching the event live was his response to a question about the latest House GOP idea of creating a supercommittee to carry out “grand bargain” negotiations. Aside from repeating his rejection of any such mechanism as a precondition for a CR or debt limit increase, Obama had this to say (per The Hill’s Justin Sink) about the framework GOPers were talking about adopting for a supercommittee (assuming, I guess, one could be formed after an acceptable CR and debt limit were approved):

“The leaders up in Congress they can work through whatever processes they want, but the bottom line is either you’re having good faith negotiations in which your having a give and take or you’re not,” Obama said.
The president said that it appeared the GOP was pursuing a framework for the panel in which Republicans would demand negotiations on areas of the budget that concern them, while eliminating discussion of items like closing corporate tax loopholes that Democrats have demanded.
“I don’t know why Democrats right now would agree to a format that takes off the table everything they care about,” Obama said.
“They can design whatever formats they want,” Obama said. “What is not fair and will not result in an actual deal is ransom taking or hostage taking.”

It’s interesting that Obama so strongly separated his role in insisting on a clean CR and debt limit increase from Congress’ role in structuring the budget negotiations that he has invited. But his comments on the we’ll-talk-about-anything-so-long-as-it-doesn’t-involve-taxes approach to “grand bargaining” by the GOP can’t be repeated too often.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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