Here is Sen. Bob Corker (R–Tenn.) on the prospects of a compromise budget deal with Democrats:
I think Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues. And that doesn’t mean increasing rates, that means closing loopholes. It also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth.
Corker’s final sentence is an obvious escape hatch, but ignore that for the moment. He says Republicans will seriously consider closing loopholes in return for cutting entitlements. That sounds like progress! Let’s check in with the Speaker of the House to see if he agrees. This conversation is a little hard to follow, but I think it’s pretty clear in the end:
MARTHA RADDATZ: Is there any ratio of entitlement cuts to new revenues that you would–
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: The president got his–
MARTHA RADDATZ: –say that the is three to one, four to one–
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: –tax hikes. The president–
MARTHA RADDATZ: –nothing?
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: –got his tax hikes on January the 1st.
MARTHA RADDATZ: So, the answer to–
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: He r– he–
MARTHA RADDATZ: –that is no?
Maybe Boehner is just talking tough. But he sure sounds like the entire rest of the House GOP caucus, doesn’t he? Nor does he seem willing to talk about any actual entitlement cuts he’d like to see. There’s been vague hand waving about Paul Ryan’s budget, which is a pretty obvious nonstarter, but not much more.
So I guess the question is whether you believe that House Republicans talk differently in private than they do in public. Do you?