In the early talks to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," congressional Republicans are taking a page straight out of the summer 2011 playbook -- going back to the negotiations during the showdown over the debt ceiling.
That July, House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama came close to a "Grand Bargain" on a wide scale bipartisan deficit-reduction plan. The outline of that plan did not raise taxes, but reportedly found up to $800 billion in new revenue by closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions. The plan also called for entitlement reform with changes to Medicare and Social Security.
On Nov. 11th, Bob Woodward presented the White House’s final offer from that time on Meet the Press:
"This is a confidential document, last offer the president -- the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this $4 trillion grand bargain. And it's long and it's tedious and it's got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military, for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare. And there are some lines in there about, "We want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses." So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far."
GOP aides tell NBC News that a central tenet of the GOP strategy in these current negotiations is to remind the president of just how far he was willing to go in July of 2011, especially when it comes to entitlements.
Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there’s been “little progress” on the fiscal cliff and claimed that Social Security would not be part of any deal. A Democratic aide tells NBC News that their early strategy centers upon not capitulating to intransigent GOP demands regarding tax rates.
As the adage goes, elections have consequences. And Democrats believe that Obama's re-election -- as well as picking up additional Senate and House seats -- has strengthened their negotiating hand. After all, those 2011 "grand bargain" negotiations came after the GOP's thumping of Democrats in the 2010 midterms.
Still, one component of the talks that GOP aides circle back to -- if President Obama truly wants to accomplish big things in his second term (such as immigration reform or an infrastructure bank), how these "fiscal cliff" negotiations go will set a precedent for future cooperation.
Their feeling is that the president’s tone this Friday during his first public rally regarding the fiscal cliff will be telling of how conciliatory he’ll be in the talks.