WASHINGTON - Liberals constantly lecture, more in theatrical sorrow than in actual anger, about their eagerness to compromise with Republicans, just not with Republicans who are - liberal moderation expresses itself immoderately - hostage-taking terroristic anarchistic jihadist suicide bombers.
But Maine's Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the very model of moderation, spoiled the Democrats' piety charade by demonstrating its insincerity when she suggested this compromise:
Republicans would support a continuing resolution funding the government for six months at the sequester levels of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was produced by that year's debt-ceiling negotiations.
Republicans would also support raising the debt ceiling to enable the government to borrow enough to finance the substantial deficit spending involved in even sequester-level spending.
(The sequester's supposed severity does not come close to balancing the budget.)
Republicans also would grant agencies greater flexibility in administering the sequester's cuts.
In exchange, Collins asked for only two things.
First, a mere delay, and for just two years, of Obamacare's medical-device tax, which is so "stupid" - Sen. Harry Reid's characterization - that bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress favor outright repeal.
Second, enforcement of income-verification criteria for those seeking Obamacare's insurance subsidies - criteria the administration wrote but waived.
Here Collins was asking not for alteration of, but for enforcement of, Obamacare.
Just as many Republicans believe the Democrats' primary goal regarding immigration reform is to turn as many immigrants as possible into voters as quickly as possible, many Republicans also believe the Democrats' primary goal regarding Obamacare is to turn as many people as possible into subsidy recipients as quickly as possible.
Hence Democrats' aversion to income criteria to prevent fraud.
As of early Monday evening, Democrats had refused Collins' bargain, giving several reasons but really having only one important one: They loathe the sequester, which prevents them from opening the spending spigot.
Their knees ache from genuflecting before the altar of a "clean" continuing resolution and a "clean" debt-ceiling increase. They insist it is a sin against good government to attach any conditions to either.