The White House is trying to jump-start budget talks with Senate Republicans to avoid a showdown over the raising the national debt ceiling later this year.Given that the president has repeatedly pledged he will not negotiate over Congress's responsibility to raise the debt limit, what's the purpose of having a negotiation to avoid negotiating over the thing that is non-negotiable?
Not only that, why start negotiations with Senate Republicans when you know you'll have to renegotiate with House Republicans? This isn't an issue like immigration reform, where the House would gladly sit on its hands in the absence of Senate action. Congress needs to fund the government and raise the debt limit or government will shut down.
Moreover, thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (aka the debt limit hostage crisis), Congress and the White House have already agreed on spending levels for next year. So unless there's a chance of improving on that, what could be gained by having serious negotiations with the Senate's minority party? I guess one answer is that there might still be a flicker of "hope" for a Grand Bargain, but as NRCC head Greg Walden already made clear, Republicans will use talk of a Grand Bargain to attack Democrats on Social Security. Even if Obama continues to push it, congressional Democrats should run as fast from it as they can.
Taking a hard line worked pretty well with the fiscal cliff and the most recent debt limit extension. On the other hand, the long drawn out debt ceiling and budget negotiations of 2011 ended in disaster. Why not give another shot at doing what worked instead of falling back on failure?