President Barack ObamaPresident Obama and Congressional Republicans actually view concerns about the deficit in two different ways and that is what has prevented a deal.

Obama for whatever reason actually thinks reducing the long term deficit should be important. He has put forward plans to include spending cuts and tax increases in order to achieve this goal. He has repeatedly tried to tailor his plan to get enough buy in from different groups for it to become law.

While Republicans talk about the deficit a lot, that is not their actual goal. Their goal is to shrink the size of government, particularly government spending on the poor, and regulation. Deficit reduction is important to current Congressional Republicans not as a end in itself, but as a valuable tool to achieve their real goal.

For years most Republicans have taken the no new tax pledge. The logic behind the pledge is about “starving the beast.” The idea is that with revenue capped the only way to address the deficit will be to cut spending. Deficit concerns are important to Republicans, but primarily just as a way to advance their multi-stage plan.

At its core this is why a so called “grand bargain” hasn’t happened. We are not talking about the inability to find a compromise between two different plans to achieve one shared goal, which would theoretically be achievable.

The different view of the deficit means agreeing to any bargain with Obama would actually undermine the Republicans’ real goal. Obama claims he wants a deficit deal that includes new revenue to stabilize government spending at a particular level. That would work against the goal of shrinking the government to a much lower level.

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