This, from the NY Times, has to be the most inexpressibly baffling news story I've ever read, so baffling that one wonders if it isn't instead a bevy of intentionally empty trial balloons all floating at once:
Senate leaders are closing in on a path for dealing with the "fiscal cliff" facing the country in January, opting to try to use a postelection session of Congress to reach agreement on a comprehensive deficit reduction deal rather than a short-term solution.
The American electorate stands at the edge of a pit into which they're about to hurl a good chunk of these tragically elected goons, and yet the goons are now to cook up a reactionary budget "framework" of imposing, lasting consequences?
It gets worse. After vaguely detailing this possible option and that potential cut and perhaps other assorted bits of domestic whacking here and there, the story proceeds:
Finally, they would vote to put off the automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, and tax increases scheduled to hit all at once in January — but with some deficit reduction down payment to signal how serious Congress is.
So we're to pull a Full European Monty? More and immediate "deficit reduction" to show we're "serious"--because, well, we know how well that's worked overseas--but a delay in tax increases; presumably, from the way the story is written, all tax increases?
Ah, but, what's this?
The two parties will have only weeks to reach an agreement between Election Day and Dec. 31, and they remain far apart on some fundamental issues besides tax cuts for the wealthy [my emphasis]. House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio says he will not accept any deal that raises tax rates or "decouples" the Bush-era tax rates by extending some but allowing others to expire.
Which of course punctures all reasonable premise of any "framework" whatsoever.
Otherwise I'm with Krugman on this:
[T]his would be politically stupid as well as a betrayal of the electorate. If you don’t think Republicans would turn around and accuse Democrats of cutting Social Security — probably even before the ink was dry — you’ve been living under a rock.
There's got to be more to it. The Times story is bewilderingly incomplete, or poorly edited, or vastly ill-informed. It must be one of those. Not even Senate Democrats are this dumb.