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(CNN) - We did learn some intriguing details about the debt ceiling negotiations in recent days. Both President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were ready to anger their respective bases in order to work out a deal.
To the dismay of many Democrats, President Obama was ready to support cuts in entitlement spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He was ready to support what’s called “means testing” – meaning that richer people would have to shell out more for health benefits under Medicare than poorer people. The president is also apparently ready to adopt a new cost-of-living increase formula that effectively would result in reduced Social Security and Medicare benefits. When I interviewed Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont the other day, he made it clear he hated those proposals.
To the dismay of many Republicans, especially Tea Party activists, Speaker Boehner made it clear he was ready to accept $800 billion in increased tax revenue as part of a deal with the president. Boehner called it “tax reform” – suggesting that some loopholes, exemptions and subsidies would be reduced or eliminated. But hard-core anti-tax purists insist those changes would amount to a net tax increase – something they would oppose.
Boehner said his last proposal to Obama, which included the $800 billion in tax increases, was still available for consideration. He ended the negotiations with the president on Friday when Obama insisted that another $400 billion in tax increases be added to the package.
Here’s my question: Is the deal really going to collapse over $400 billion over ten years – or $40 billion a year? That’s a lot of money but in the scheme of things – we’re talking trillions not billions –it’s relatively modest.
Is it too late to resurrect the deal? “It may be pretty hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Boehner said.
Given the disaster that could unfold from a federal default, maybe not.