It’s the Republicans who are in a bind. They’re beholden to the will of the evil genius Grover Norquist. They’re scared to death of The Club for Growth. That's the trite liberal media narrative that CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli furthered earlier this morning in a piece in which he forecast that the Republicans, and only Republicans, are in for a bruising in the coming weeks should a "fiscal cliff" deal not be finalized. But in doing so, Montopoli conveniently forgets that Democrats have their pressure groups that hold their feet to the fire against any significant spending cuts and/or entitlement reform.
Perhaps Montopoli doesn't watch his own network's evening newscasts. On the Tuesday Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes noted that Democrats and President Obama are digging in their heels against any proposed deal which addresses entitlement spending. In fact, forty-two Democratic members of the House have signed on to a bill that explicitly prohibits cuts to the welfare state.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is leading a coalition in the Senate called the "cliff jumpers," liberal senators who would rather take no deal, than one they consider a bad one. A truly moderate news media concerned about achieved a "balanced deal" with "middle ground" would complain that Democrats have a problem here too in that they are steadfastly wedded to a large, unsustainable welfare state.
To his credit, John Avlon at the liberal Daily Beast had the gumption to call on Democrats to be bold on entitlement reform to foment a deal. Yes, as Avlon aptly noted, there are ‘Norquists of the left,’ who won’t budge an iota on entitlement spending, which keeps the liberal agenda of dependency alive. Avlon rightfully wrote that:
Math isn’t partisan. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that because of our aging population; cumulative spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt could gobble all federal revenues by the end of the next decade. The status quo is unsustainable. We cannot simply tax or spend or borrow our way out of this problem. Striking the right decisive balance is critical to our long-term economic strength as a nation.
It seems we can stop smearing Rep. Paul Ryan, Gov. Mitt Romney, and Republicans as the enemies of the poor, the elderly, and the disenfranchised. It’s that cold-hearted vixen called arithmetic.
But in the world of Montopoli, “the cliff is actually a slope,” and “Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies have said they are open to some cuts (or "savings") to entitlement programs.”
Montopoli quoted Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who:
[last Tuesday] urged liberal Democrats to "take an honest look at Medicare," but any deal that makes major changes to the program would face strong opposition from many Democrats. And Durbin said Tuesday that any major changes to entitlement programs should not be a part of the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations.
Talk is cheap in politics, and this statement from Durbin means nothing.
Yes, the tax pledge may have put some Republicans in a bind and constrains their ability to negotiate, but the same is true of Democrats who are beholden to their vigilant interest groups like the AARP and the AFL-CIO.