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.
The White House is willing to cut a deal with Republicans that will accomplish 1, 2, 3 and 4. But Republicans don’t want that deal. They’d prefer the sequester to that deal. That means they will get less on 1, basically nothing 2, 4, and 5, and they will actively hurt themselves on 3. So, rather than accomplishing four of their five goals, they’re accomplishing part of one. Some trade. ...Ezra Klein, WaPo
It all keeps circling back to the assumption that the Republicans are nuts. Klein suggests an explanation which is nutty but which may have some internal cohesion, at least.
The rest of us have the old answer which seems almost too obvious to be true. But maybe we're right::
Republicans will accept anything as long as it's not acceptable to either a) a majority of the American people or 2) their recently re-elected president.
In the comments section of Klein's opinion piece is this suggestion from "Airborne82":
Spending Cuts and Money sources to fund transportation infrastructure, tax cuts and climate change disaster mitigation:
1. Elimate the $1.4 Trillion medicare prescription drup program which props up higher prices for profit windfalls for drug companies.
2. Tax Gold and minerals mined on public land; $30~$40 billion
3. Tax derivative and swaps trades .03%; $350 billion
4. Flat 10% tax on repatraited corporate income; $200 billion
5. Tax on global warming CO2 & methane pollution $30/ton : $100~$200 billion
6. Eliminating subsidies to rich farming corporations; $30 billion
7. Eliminating Wall Streets founders tax loophole; $30 billion
There is more than enough money for infrastructure investment, a renewed 2% payroll tax cut and energy efficiency tax credits for homeowners and businesses.
There's endless speculation about what the hell it is that Republicans really want at this point. Listening to and reading some of that speculation, something just clicked into place. Is it primarily their desire to turn Obama into a mere bump in American history? That's certainly part of it. Their resentment knows no bounds. It was born during the Bush administration -- Bush embarrassed them far more than they'd like to admit. They hated the rest of us for noticing that their little emperor wore no clothes even though they knew that themselves...
So okay... embarrassment, dismay, anger, resentment.
But what is the more immediate cause of their untoward behaviors? I'm beginning to think that they would far rather be seen as a great stone wall, a party of determined obstruction, simply because that's not as bad as being seen as a party facing fragmentation. In other words, their enemy within threatens them far more than anything the "libruls" throw at them. Their great secret is that there is, in effect, no Republican party. Throw out "embarrassment, dismay, anger, resentment" and substitute "panic." They've been assailed for years by the federalists' far right. The tea party has inflicted the coup de grâce.