An End to the Grand-Bargain Charades

The phony budget games finally came to an end this week. After years of trying to entice Republicans into serious negotiations over a fiscal deal — years of instant rejection and painful austerity — the White Houseannounced it was giving up.

In President Obama’s 2015 budget, scheduled to be unveiled next month, there will be no more proposals to cut entitlement programs. Instead, the president will demand what the country needs the most: new investments in education, in energy efficiency, in job training. When Republicans turn away, as they will, they will have to explain to voters why they prefer tax loopholes for the rich over programs to create jobs and rebuild the economy.

Mr. Obama will not include an offer that marred his 2014 budget plan: reducing the cost-of-living increase for Social Security in exchange for higher spending and the end of some of those loopholes. The Social Security cut, known as a “chained” Consumer Price Index, was never a good idea. It was likely to hurt vulnerable retirees, but had been long advocated by the right. Nonetheless, Republicans refused to consider that change if it meant touching the tax breaks of their wealthiest donors, so they passed up a chance to achieve their stated goal of reducing entitlement spending.

“Over the course of last year, Republicans consistently showed a lack of willingness to negotiate on a deficit-reduction deal,” a White House official said, “refusing to identify even one unfair tax loophole they would be willing to close, despite the president’s willingness to put tough things on the table.”

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