The GOP's Absurd Notion Of Compromise

February 24, 2011 3:15 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

In the prelude to the November election, swaggering House Republicans indicated there would be "no compromise" in the new majority. During a post-election interview on 60 Minutes in December, incoming Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) uncomfortably dodged questions about the potential for compromise, declaring, "I reject the word."

Two months later, Boehner's majority is living up to its promise of rigidity (although it's having a harder time keeping its word on other matters). Last week, House Republicans passed a radical spending bill, knowing that its draconian and dangerous cuts precluded any chance of it advancing. Now, with a government shutdown looming, Republicans have purportedly proposed a compromise to fund the government beyond the deadline.

House Republicans told Senate Democrats on Wednesday that they would agree to a temporary spending bill to avert a government shutdown next week only if the measure began instituting House-passed cuts on a pro-rated basis.

Officials familiar with talks between representatives of House and Senate leaders said the proposal, still being assembled for a possible vote next week, would call for $4 billion in reductions in exchange for an additional two weeks to allow the House and Senate to negotiate a spending plan to finance the government through Sept. 30.

Republican leaders are touting the proposal as evidence that they are committed to preventing a government shutdown, but their argument isn't very compelling. As Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes, the GOP offer basically amounts to "Ok, let's compromise. Give us everything we want on a prorated basis, or we'll shut down the government." He adds, "To call this a 'compromise' is to strip the word of all meaning."