Rich Lowry‘s latest National Review Online column dissects the proposed debt-ceiling deal that U.S. House Speaker John Boehner rejected:

The so-called grand bargain that Boehner eschewed wasn’t so grand. It would have raised taxes by $1 trillion while leaving untouched the federal government’s newest unsustainable entitlement program, Obamacare, and preserving the bankrupting structure of the legacy entitlement programs. It was a formula for more revenue chasing ever-higher levels of government expenditure.

The health-care bill already raised taxes by more than $400 billion over the next ten years, although that’s still not enough to truly cover Obamacare. The president wanted another round of new taxes layered on top without giving up fundamental ground on entitlement reform. This wasn’t a “balanced” approach. It was a proposed continuation of President Obama’s fiscal policy under bipartisan auspices.

Yes, the White House was willing to endorse cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. In all likelihood, they would have ended up as the dubious cuts that are the typical stuff of Beltway budgetary legerdemain. Reductions in payment rates and the like may produce savings on paper, but they rarely materialize. “Various versions of them have been included in every budget deal going back 30 years,” James Capretta, a budget expert with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes. “As the years go by, the savings always vanish in the regulatory complexity of the programs, and entitlement spending continues to rise just as it always has.”