The president's team specified no amounts or details on spending cuts. Rather, the White House wants more spending: at least $50 billion in new stimulus, an extension of unemployment insurance, a one-year deferral of the sequester, new money to refinance underwater mortgages, a Medicare-doctor fix . . . and a partridge in a pear tree.
Oh, the White House also wants Congress to give Mr. Obama the authority to increase the debt limit, whenever he wants, as much as he wants.
What do Republicans get in return? Next year, the White House will agree to talk to the GOP about cutting as much as $400 billion from entitlement programs. Maybe. If Democrats get around to it. Which they won't—because they'll have everything they've wanted.
How to put this tax-and-more-spending offer in perspective? It is far in excess of what the Democrats asked for in last year's debt-limit standoff—when the political configuration in Washington was exactly the same. It is far more than the president's own Democratic Senate has ever been able to pass, even with a filibuster-proof majority. It is far more than the president himself campaigned on this year.
But the president's offer is very much in keeping with his history of insisting that every negotiation consist of the other side giving him everything he wants. That approach has given him the reputation as the modern president least able to forge a consensus.