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October 07, 2013 4:40 PM Fournier’s Descent

By Ed Kilgore

Having taken issue, however mildly, with a post by Jonathan Bernstein just now, I feel honor-bound to note that at Ten Miles Square he has another piece that just absolutely nails Ron Fournier’s latest bout of false equivalence.

First bit: Fournier believes that Republican demands (about ACA) are unreasonable, but that Barack Obama should negotiate with them. Fournier entirely ignores the argument against negotiations: that rewarding hostage-taking is a mistake, and that therefore Obama should not be willing to give anything at all on the debt limit (or, for that matter, on a short-term CR, as opposed to a full year funding bill). There are counterarguments to that position, I think, but Fournier just ignores it completely.
Second bit: Fournier believes that Obama should be negotiating with Republicans “to deftly steer an embattled and divided GOP away from Obamacare and to an issue worthy of high-stakes negotiations: The nation’s long-term budget crisis.” Hang on for a second about how likely that would be to work, but I really hate the hubris of this: hey, both sides, ignore what you’re fighting about and solve the problem I care about!

But here’s my favorite Fournier habit that Bernstein describes as “stark, raving mad:” the belief that Republicans can be talked into an entitlement-reform-for-tax-increases deal:

There is no way — no way — no way at all — that House Republicans are going to “strike a deal that would both raise taxes and trim entitlement spending.” Opposing tax increases is the #1 issue that all those House Republicans have run on, rivaled only by opposing abortion as their absolute core belief….
Basically, I would guess that every single House Republican values avoiding tax increases far higher than lowering the deficit or cutting Medicare and Social Security, and therefore there is absolutely no deal you can offer them that would get them to sign up. Indeed: they haven’t been shy about saying so.
Fournier’s doing a ton of wishful thinking here, and paying no attention at all to what the parties actually say they want. It’s bad reporting, and bad punditry. Just awful.

I really like that Jonathan doesn’t just bash Fournier ritualistically, but goes to the trouble of distinguishing his bad reporting from his bad punditry. It takes both to create “awful” journalism.

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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