I had been more bullish on a fiscal grand bargain for the past two years than most people I know, even including some people involved in the talks themselves.
In January and February, however, I became quite pessimistic and believed the nation was likely to muddle through with quarter measures through the end of the President’s term, not really addressing the debt and deficit fixes that are both required and pretty obvious in their particulars.
But now I’m back to thinking a deal is not just possible but likely.
Here’s what has changed:
- The President’s outreach to Republican members of Congress has already had symbolic and interpersonal impact.
- More Republicans are talking about revenue and more Democrats are talking about entitlement reform.
- The positive job numbers, on balance, give both parties more reason to seek a deal, although for different reasons (I will explore those reasons at a later date).
- The applicable committee chairs in both chambers and in both parties have a stake in a deal.
- Finally, after long last, a President with a great sense of history and an eye on the clock knows it is now or never.
This week’s bipartisan and media denunciations of the Ryan and Murray budgets as DOA political documents notwithstanding, there is a real chance now to get a big, sequenced deal in place before Labor Day. The elusive grand bargain now seems in reach.