Obama Has Compromised Already

The GOP's line that the president won't negotiate to end the government shutdown just doesn't hold up.

President Barack Obama (Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

Of course, Obama did strike a deal with Republicans after they won the House in 2010, when the GOP got an extension of the Bush-era top marginal income tax rates, and Democrats got an extension of unemployment benefits, plus the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It should have been a win all around, but after Obama got the lion’s share of the credit, House Republicans soured on the deal.

Where Republicans are going wrong now is that they haven’t put anything on the table to demonstrate that what they want is a deal and not a contest to see who will blink first.

There’s been no offer to move immigration reform, no offer to let Obama’s judicial nominations pass and no recent talk of a longer-term deal with tax and entitlement reform. And so far Republicans haven’t even taken up the Senate’s offer of a short-term budget resolution with the lower government-funding levels that kicked in earlier this year.

If the GOP wanted “chained CPI,” a flatter income tax structure or something else on their wish list, they could trade for it. But considering the history, congressional Republicans haven’t given the president that much incentive to counteroffer.

And while it’s fair game, of course, to oppose Obama’s policies — after all, that’s the opposition’s job — they’ve made a pretty weak case when they say he won’t compromise.

The president has consistently run a middle course.

For now, Republicans won’t take yes for an answer.

David Swerdlick is a contributing editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.