House Republican leaders presented a debt-reduction "plan" to the White House yesterday, which GOP officials insist is a "serious" offer. To help underscore why it's so very difficult to take the Republican proposal seriously, I put together this image, showing what each side would get as part of this attempt at "compromise."
If you're thinking this looks a little tilted in one direction, and that no sane person could characterize this as a balanced attempt to reach a bipartisan agreement, we're on the same page.
But here's the kicker: conservative activists are criticizing the GOP offer, or at least, they're pretending to.
Scoot over Democrats. The far right is launching its own attacks against Speaker John Boehner's "fiscal cliff" counter proposal -- a sign that unrest could be brewing within his House GOP Conference.
"Sadly this plan leaves conservatives wanting," declared Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group partially backed by billionaires David and Charles Koch, in a statement Monday.
Meanwhile, Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation's lobbying wing, alerted its members in an e-mail: "Not only are Republican leaders asking their members to go back on their promise not to raise taxes on the American people, but they appear unwilling to fight for the bold entitlement reforms that won them the House in 2010."
So, as far as the right-wing GOP base is concerned, a debt-reduction deal in which Republicans make no concessions at all represents an enormous sellout.
Except, in this case, I don't really believe the base is sincere.
We'll probably never know for sure what leading far-right activists are thinking, but by complaining about a deal in which GOP gives up nothing, they seem to be engaged in some political theater.
In other words, the Koch brothers' operation and the Heritage Foundation's lobbying wing are trying to offer some cover for House Speaker John Boehner and the Republican leadership -- if the left and right both claim to oppose the GOP's so-called "counteroffer," then maybe it's the moderate solution between two extremes.
Don't believe it. The offer from Republican leaders yesterday is a silly, far-right fantasy.