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Why a Grand Bargain won't get done

xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
Interesting article from the Weekly Standard on why neither party is willing to make any compromises: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/small-ball_693759.html

Long story short: Both sides have crunched the numbers, and both sides know what's going on and knows what needs to be done; problem, is, they have fundamentally different viewpoints what the relationship between the State and its citizens should be and how large the Gov't should be, and their solutions are incompatible with each other. Round peg meets a square hole, and all that. Any attempted compromise is blown up by the fringes, who want an all-or-nothing solution

A few interesting quotes from the article:

This dearth of meaningful progress frustrates the champions of a grand bargain because the outlines of such a bargain seem so obvious. The Democrats want to raise revenue and the Republicans want to reform entitlements. Those goals would seem to be easily reconciled—so why not strike a deal that does a lot of both at once? There is nothing about higher taxes that should stand in the way of entitlement reforms, and vice versa. Why can’t each party get what it wants in return for the other getting the same? Isn’t that what deal-making is all about?

The failure to strike this perfectly evident bargain has left many commentators and budget wonks despairing of our political system. Surely nothing but sheer irrationality—whether it is to be found in the design of our constitutional mechanisms or in the individuals elected to populate them—could explain the self-destructive unwillingness to meet in the middle and avert a disastrous debt crisis.

But this disparaging view is unfair to both parties. In fact, there is a deeper disagreement at the heart of our fiscal debate. It is true that Republicans want lower spending (especially on entitlements) while Democrats want higher taxes (especially on wealthy people). But why is this what each party wants? In each case, the reason has to do with a vision of government, and of American life. The partisans standing in the way of a grand bargain are, at least implicitly, better attuned to the implications of the coming fiscal crunch than the centrist critics who just want to split the difference.

. . . . . .

For Republicans, the challenge in the next four years (at least) will be to distinguish such constructive steps toward entitlement reform from blunt and counterproductive cuts that only weaken their hand in the long run. The right has actually been remarkably forthright about its policy goals—laying out, in the budget resolutions passed by the House of Representatives in 2011 and 2012, a set of ambitious reforms that point to a vision of government beyond the liberal welfare state. Although liberals have sought to depict it as radical, that vision entails a federal government of roughly its postwar size and functions, an economy growing at roughly its postwar pace, and an energetic and flourishing civil society. That is the America we have known, but keeping it will require bold reforms of government programs that capitalize on the efficiency of the market economy.

. . . . . .

The Democrats’ challenge is more serious, and has been made more stark in the wake of the fiscal cliff deal. They are truly in a reactionary mode, defending the existing entitlement system in essentially every detail and seeking ways to fund it. But the trajectory of our fiscal troubles suggests this may simply not be achievable. Over the last 40 years, federal spending (excluding interest payments) has averaged roughly 18.8 percent of GDP. The CBO projects that, on our current path, it will average roughly 24.2 percent over the next 40 years. The enormous increase in revenue required to support such an expansion is orders of magnitude greater than anything the Democrats have ever suggested to the public. Having just obtained, with great effort and controversy, the tax increase on the wealthy that has been nearly the entirety of their fiscal agenda for years, can they really go back and tell voters that they actually need to increase revenue by about 15 times as much merely to close the coming decade’s deficit and that keeping our debt in check after that will require taxes to grow more and more every year?

Unable even to hint to voters what their vision of American government would require, the Democrats are unlikely to achieve it. And they cannot view incremental steps as building toward an opportunity to enact major future reforms, since their tax agenda likely cannot be made palatable in anything but tiny portions. They can never offer their fiscal vision in a liberal equivalent of a Ryan budget proposal. All they can expect are little increments that add up to little, which will make it difficult not only to add onto the edifice of the liberal welfare state but even to sustain it.

The left has not even begun to contend with this problem intellectually, let alone politically. And the right has barely launched the effort to translate its agenda into bite-sized pieces suitable for budget talks in the Obama years. Both have much work to do, but neither is likely to see a genuinely grand bargain as a plausible way to advance its priorities at this point.

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    Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat Posts: 8,563 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hmm. Sounds like the message is that we need to attack on all fronts at once. Well might be the only thing that can save us.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "If you do not read the newspapers you're uninformed.  If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." --  Mark Twain
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    VulchorVulchor Posts: 4,848 ✭✭✭✭
    Attack-----I like that word when it comes to our politicans and system right now.
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