Democratic leadership aides say Democrats are on the same page as the president, according to Bolton. But he says some rank-and-file Democrats wonder if the president will capitulate to Republicans, like many believe he did by extending the Bush-era tax cuts in December.
Democrats say they will insist on closing special tax breaks for corporations and for the wealthiest individuals and families. Republicans have said that tax increases should not be considered. But Bolton says Democrats argue that closing tax loopholes is not the same as increasing taxes.
Democrats say the American public does not support Republican proposals cut to social services in favor of tax breaks.
"They believe they have the higher moral ground, and they insist that Republicans will eventually cave," Bolton says. "Although, Democrats thought they had the higher moral ground in December and in April when they debated the Bush tax cuts and the government shutdown. In both cases, the Republicans did a pretty good job of standing their ground."
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, has signed onto a proposal with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to cut Medicare benefits by raising Medicare's eligibility age and premium payments.
"Lieberman is now an Independent," Bolton says, "but his support for Coburn's plan does give Republicans some rhetorical ammunition."