The best part about Washington’s new obsession with scandals is that it seems to have killed any hopes for a grand bargain in the near future. Congress has only so much bandwidth to deal with issues and it looks like most of that time will be consumed by “investigations.” In addition, while Republican are in all out war mode against the administration it is basically impossible to take part in complex compromise negotiations.
There is a history of this happening, as Greg Sargent recently reminded everyone. Bill Clinton’s push for a bipartisan reform to Social Security in 1998 was derailed by the Republican’s push for impeachment. Clinton needed to rally Democrats behind him so he had no room to cut a deal rank and file Democrats would oppose.
While we are only a few days into the current firestorms over the IRS and AP there are signs that same dynamic will come into play here. Republicans senators are already saying these issue will make the grand bargain too difficult. From Politico:
“I can’t imagine that this IRS scandal and the controversy surrounding the overreach and intimidation by the IRS will do anything but pour cold water on the president’s attempt to raise taxes as part of a grand bargain,” [Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss)] said on MSNBC. “So yes, it will hurt the president in that respect.”
While immigration reform seems to have already developed its own momentum, it is going to be very hard for President Obama to get Republicans behind any other new actions will they are still out for blood. Republicans think they have a winning issue right now, so they are going to be in no mood to help Obama by giving him a big bipartisan victory on the deficit.
The push to cut Social Security under Obama is never permanently defeated just temporarily set back, but this could be a big setback.
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