Over the last few days both President Obama and House Speaker Boehner have made proposals for a compromise in the budget battle that made each other laugh. And not in a good way. The details aren’t worth mentioning because the proposals are not really serious, like first bids at an auction.
The two sides are so far a part that we seem inexorably headed over that fiscal cliff – or fiscal curb and bumpy slope as envisioned in my previous post. You can easily find cheerleader columnists from both sides urging their side to let it happen, that it will actually make the other side look worse if we dive or fall off that whatever.
In watching this “game” in upcoming weeks, a pivotal point to track is the stake in the ground stuck by the Obama team that any deal must include allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire while leaving in place those cuts for most of us. Obama has stressed this point and seems set to stick with it backed by his base and commonly polled stat of 60% or so of Americans being in favor.
However, the Republican members of their controlled House are more concerned with their base back home who put them in office. Not raising taxes has been the lynchpin of Republican identity, with the Grover Norquist pledge not to do so, signed by most of them, being the stick to keep them in line. The carrot being we the Tea Party, won’t try to defeat you at your next primary (or viewed as a stick, they will).
It is hard to imagine how those two seemingly intractable positions can come to some kind of agreement, but in a New York Times column this morning David Brooks, a moderate conservative, creatively comes up with one.
Brooks describes why he believes that President Obama has his fellow Republicans over a barrel and they “have to realize that they are going to cave on tax rates. The only question is what they get in return.”
Brooks goes on to describe his vision of how the two parties might work together in 2013, with the Republicans getting a lot in return. It is not as hard to believe in as Santa Clause, but pretty close to a Grinch like me. Still, in our present political climate when every win by one side means a loss by the other, it does hold out a prospect of both parties – and most importantly the country – benefiting from working together.
Undoubtedly critics on the left and right are or will be ripping apart this suggestion by Brooks. And, yes, it sounds too good to be true. But being the holiday season and all, and the “cliff-curb-slope” still a few weeks away, we can all still hope.
Here’s the link to the editorial.