Ezra Klein tries to make sense of things:
As I understand it, the GOP has five basic goals in the budget talks:
1) Cut the deficit.
2) Cut entitlement spending.
3) Protect defense spending, and possibly even increase it.
4) Simplify the tax code by cleaning out deductions and loopholes.
5) Lower tax rates.
He then outlines the fundamental incompatibility of Republicans' hostility to the White House's attempted accommodations of the former's stated goals, noting that "I’ve asked some Republican sources to explain their thinking to me. But none of the answers quite seems to add up..... Perhaps I’m missing something?"
In fact, Ezra, the underlying problem may be that you've included too much; that is, you have accepted as premise #1 the Republican goal to "cut the deficit." While this is a noble-sounding marketing slogan for the GOP, it is politically antipodal to the party's deeper objective of goal #2--"cut entitlement spending"--which, to be somewhat repetitive, becomes politically more palatable only by not accomplishing goal #1.
Put another way, one should not accept at face value anything the GOP says (is it really still necessary to say that?)--especially when it comes to deficits, and especially since it was the GOP that deliberately cranked them up. And having gone to so much trouble to wreck our fiscal house, why would the GOP want to help rebuild it, which in short order would only let entitlements off the hook?
Finally radicalized nearly to the point of clarity, the contemporary GOP is left with one fundamental goal: to destroy the welfare state, along with anything that smacks of a welfare state, which includes earned entitlements. And that cannot be accomplished through logical fiscal policies, nicely ordered, beginning with "cut the deficit."