The Rumors of Republican Compromise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 5 2011 12:07 AM

The Rumors of Republican Compromise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Last night, Lori Montgomery published a budget curtain-raiser with hints that the GOP would buckle on the Ryan budget's Medicare reform: "Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree."

Hours later, the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the main source for this (implied) claim, pushed out this statement.

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[W]e are getting inundated with inquiries on a Washington Post breaking news alert regarding the GOP’s position in the upcoming debt limit negotiations.  Please see the correcting statement just issued by the Post in a subsequent news alert: "Note: The headline on an earlier alert incorrectly described the GOP position in deficit talks." To be clear, the Republican position is the Ryan budget, period.

That right there is rapid pushback. It has to be rapid. Domestic politics happened to go on a 48-hour freeze when Congress returned, because of the OBL raid. If they hadn't, Republicans would have returned with 1) some undercurrent of opposition to the Medicare plan, 2) insistent cries of "don't go wobby" from the base and the blogs. The anger they felt after the budget deal never diffused. Last week, some Tea Party activists even met with representatives to come and tell them. (Jenny Beth Martin, the Time 100-honored head of Tea Party Patriots, expressed this to her congressman, Tom Price.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.