IT’S BECOMING clear that since President Obama gave in once on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest that McConnell and Boehner think he will again.

The Hill reports:

“We’re insisting on keeping tax rates where they are, first and foremost, to protect jobs and because we don’t think government needs the money in the first place,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“The problem, as I’ve said, is that Washington spends too much. But if more revenue is the price that Democrats want to exact, then we should at least agree to do it in a way that doesn’t cost jobs and disincentivize rates, as we all know raising rates would do,” he said.

Steve Rattner on “Morning Joe” today said that the two sides are far apart, because the decision makers aren’t dealing.

Republicans want entitlement spending on the table, with McConnell more concerned about getting a primary challenger if he gives in.

Politico’s report this morning gives more credence that McConnell and Boehner’s bloviating is all bluffing.

Cut through the fog, and here’s what to expect: Taxes will go up just shy of $1.2 trillion ““ the middle ground of what President Barack Obama wants and what Republicans say they could stomach. Entitlement programs, mainly Medicare, will be cut by no less than $400 billion ““ and perhaps a lot more, to get Republicans to swallow those tax hikes. There will be at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and “war savings.” And any final deal will come not by a group effort but in a private deal between two men: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The two men had a 30-minute phone conversation Wednesday night ““ but the private lines of communications remain very much open.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken Social Security out of any economic negotiations. Senator Durbin hinted at a commission for Social Security, which is laughable.

Update: From Roll Call, someone is working very hard to scuttle the talks. I’d bet on someone from the right who don’t want a tax deal, because the White House has to know the pressure Boehner’s under not to deal on the 2% tax hike.

Republicans believe the administration leaked details of the 30-minute Wednesday night phone call to Politico, which is causing them to question whether they can trust the White House to keep details private, a sentiment that has caused progress in the negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” to stall. White House aides, however, denied that the leak came from the administration.