So let’s survey the state of play. The President and his party control the Senate, while the opposition party controls the House. With a mounting atmosphere of crisis over the exploding federal deficit, the President and the Speaker of the House are meeting trying to hammer out a budget deal. And the conventional wisdom is that that President must, in the name of reasonableness, give in to the Speaker of the House.
Wait—you mean that’s not what you’re hearing? Of course not; the media and the liberal establishment (does there need to be a conjunctive in that clause?) all demand that the Speaker of the House must—simply must—give in to the President.
But the first paragraph above describes the budget deal of 1982, when some of the very same people who today say John Boehner must give in to Obama were saying that President Reagan must—simply must—give in to House Speaker Tip O’Neill and agree to raise taxes. Reagan cut taxes too much, and so he has to raise them now, the chattering class argued. But strangely almost no one in the media today is saying that Obama, having spent to oblivion, needs to cut spending first and foremost.
The common element that explains the difference between these two episodes is easy to spot: whichever branch of government is the locus of pressure to raise taxes will always be crowned by the media as the person to whom the other branch must submit. Call it the Iron Law of Taxation Press Coverage.