Steve Hayward and others are calling this our "Reykjavik moment." The argument being:
Gorbachev offered huge concessions to the United States on nuclear weaponry, culminating in the central agreement to abolish all strategic nuclear weapons in 10 years. But there was a catch: Reagan had to give up development of missile defense. Reagan said "Nyet," and the summit collapsed. . . .
The budget talks in search of a "grand deal" that are apparently under way this weekend look like the fiscal equivalent of Reykjavik: Obama may well offer substantial reform of entitlements a decade down the road, in return for a GOP concession on taxes today. On the surface it will look like Obama is willing to break with his base, and in a sense he would be, as Nancy Pelosi will prostrate herself in front of the Social Security Administration. But Speaker Boehner should nonetheless say "Nyet" to this deal. . . .
If the budget talks between now and August 2 (the debt ceiling deadline) collapse because of a GOP refusal to raise taxes, liberals and the media (but I repeat. . .) will howl at the moon, but Obama will have little choice but to come back to the table on Republican terms.
Is that necessarily the case? Will President Obama avoid default at all costs? If there is no deal, the executive branch will try to make it as painful as possible for the American people, and do its best to blame the GOP for it--just as President Clinton did when he refused to deal the GOP Congress offered in 1995.
If there's a default, it will be very expensive. Taxes will almost certainly have to go up. Or would it be so expensive that, even with heavy tax hikes, it will be impossible not to make major cuts to the modern bureaucratic, administrative, welfare state.
This is no fight over loaves and fishes. This is a fight over what the job of government is, and, hence, since the law inevitably shape national character, over the kind of people the Americans will be in the future. That's why both sides are dug in. But is this the right place and time to make a stand? Why would the GOP win if no one blinks until after August 2, (or whenever we finally do really have to do something about America's financial obligations)? My instinct is that there are too many people in Washington who enjoy making deals too much, and who are too averse to bad publicity for this to turn out as Hayward and others hope.