Fiscal-Cliff Talks Going Nowhere Fast

There was some spin yesterday to the effect that the lack of public leaking around the fiscal cliff talks was a sign of progress. Today there’s more public talk and it looks like no progress has been made.

John Boehner says he wants the president to publicly espouse spending cuts even though the White House has already done this in both their FY 2013 budget request and their initial memo on the fiscal cliff. Boehner’s actual problem is that the administration wants to count the substantial budget cuts already agreed to as constituting a large share of the cuts portion of a medium-term fiscal package. Boehner presumably wants larger cuts, but won’t say all that explicitly what it is he wants in part because Republicans are confused about Medicare and in part because he fears his position is unpopular. Mitch McConnell has backed up Boehner and has emphasized that the GOP intends to retain debt ceiling leverage even after the fiscal cliff issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi published an op-ed denouncing the idea of raising the eligibility age for Medicare and the Center for American Progress put out a more detailed issue brief on that point to back up CEO Neera Tanden’s denouncing of the idea on TV over the weekend. Any deal that agrees to higher taxes is presumably going to lose some Republicans, and the key implication here is that if Obama and Boehner want the House Democratic leadership to whip for votes to make up the gap they’d better not raise that Medicare age.

So all told, we’re about exactly where we were on Election Day.