We can argue that we shouldn't have to meet in the "middle," that Democrats won big this past election, and as such have the popular mandate (as well as popular support on the specifics) to drive a hard bargain. But even the most optimistic scenario requires some give. And given that President Barack Obama has already admitted to going past the middle and into GOP territory in his desperate gambit for a deal, so much for that theory. The victor doesn't get the spoils with our current president and opposition.
But here's the thing—if you have to make concessions, at least make the other side own them. Here's what you do:
1) Only make concessions as part of a final deal. Going past the halfway point with two weeks on the calendar guarantees the GOP will reject the offer, and you're stuck there looking like an idiot having offered the farm, including cuts to Social Security, with nothing in return. Those of you arguing that this makes House Speaker John Boehner look bad are smoking something.
2) Make the GOP own the stuff no one likes. Like chained CPI. You don't propose it yourself. You let THEM propose it.
3) Then you announce the deal, say, "We got this, and this, and this. As for the GOP, they got to fuck over seniors. We fought it, but they insisted on it."
What's frustrating about this is that Democrats had gone weeks refusing to play this game—stating clearly that they had made their detailed proposal, and if Republicans didn't like it, that they had to offer their alternative with detailed cuts that they themselves would own. Public opinion was firmly behind the president and congressional Democrats.
Why Obama decided to break from what had been an effective strategy is a mystery. But it harkens to the Obama that botched the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations so thoroughly, that he's lucky he had over a year before the election to recover.
Democrats had backed Boehner into a corner, demanding he response to the Democratic proposals with specific cuts of his own, something Boehner clearly didn't want to do. That Obama decided to unilaterally and for no obvious reason bail the GOP out is simply inexplicable.