“I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” [Republican Rep. Tom Cole] said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2 percent of earners. “It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don’t.” [Politico]

Rep. Tom Cole (via Newscom – TPM)

BY GROVER, of course I mean Grover Norquist. There is a lot of evidence that he remains a hero to the House Tea Party members and the Sean Hannity wingnut caucus, vice president Laura Ingraham. But his grip on Republican sanity is slipping where the Bush top tax cuts are concerned.

What’s the cost for this?

If you are a fan of Alan Simpson, you can bet it’s entitlements, specifically Social Security.

Republicans are going to lose the entitlement battle for now, especially Social Security, which doesn’t belong in the same conversation with Medicare and Medicaid. But eventually, as Senator Durbin has already warned, Medicare and Medicaid will be “on the table.” In case you aren’t aware, if Dick Durbin is talking, it’s President Obama’s message being given.

The issue is that entitlements are too important and complex to try to recraft before the New Year, which has been the point of AARP, Social Security advocates, as well as unions.

Make a deal on extending all tax cuts but the top 2%. After all, Bush gave the tax cut, so giving it back for the 2%, is that really violating Grover’s pledge? Rep. Tom Cole says no, so that may be Grover’s new normal. As long as the Tea Party House members are around, with a few in the Senate, Grover lives to fight another day and so will Rep. Tom Cole.