I'm a big fan of David Brooks. He writes well -- especially his socio-political books like Bobos in Paradise -- and is always a thoughtful, principled critic of the right. Even though, um, he's supposed to be on the right.
That's how places like the NYTimes thread that particular needle: the liberals on the editorial page criticize conservatives, and the conservatives on the editorial page criticize....conservatives. But that's not what we're here to talk about.
In today's NYTimes, Brooks writes a particularly provocative column. He calls it "The Mother of All No-Brainers," and he suggests that Republicans are being foolish -- well, worse than foolish: "fanatic" and lacking "moral decency."
Brooks' point is that Republicans are letting a perfect opportunity slip by. Democrats are offering huge concessions in order to raise the debt ceiling, and Republicans are missing the big picture:
Republican leaders have also proved to be effective negotiators. They have been tough and inflexible and forced the Democrats to come to them. The Democrats have agreed to tie budget cuts to the debt ceiling bill. They have agreed not to raise tax rates. They have agreed to a roughly 3-to-1 rate of spending cuts to revenue increases, an astonishing concession.
Moreover, many important Democrats are open to a truly large budget deal. President Obama has a strong incentive to reach a deal so he can campaign in 2012 as a moderate. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has talked about supporting a debt reduction measure of $3 trillion or even $4 trillion if the Republicans meet him part way. There are Democrats in the White House and elsewhere who would be willing to accept Medicare cuts if the Republicans would be willing to increase revenues.
If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.
Republicans aren't "normal" because they're held hostage to a fanatical zero-tax faction -- he doesn't mention it by name, but it's pretty clear he means the Tea Party -- and for Brooks, this is hard to take. The deal he says is on the table is a "no brainer." Republicans should congratulate themselves, take the deal, and save the country.
Which I probably would agree with. Except: what deal is this, again? Where is it? Is it written down somewhere? Was it reported in some news outlet that I missed? I have a pretty solid system -- Google Alerts, Google Reader, even a bookmark file called "RicoScan," which I use multiple times a day to keep up -- but I somehow missed the actual Democratic proposal.
I didn't miss the Democratic senators statements to the press, the bloviating, the meretricious Obama press conference. I heard those. What I missed was the deal. I'd love for Brooks to point out where that was offered.
In specific terms. With actual numbers and stuff. And bear in mind: they didn't even pass a budget when they were in control of Congress.
The idea that Republicans in the House -- or taxpayers anywhere -- should simply trust a collection of dishonest, spendthrift, irresponsible, and derelict leaders without seeing something in writing -- well, talk about having no brain.