Would You Meet Your Killer Halfway?
Fiscal cliff deal raises a question. Is compromise always reasonable?
January 8, 2013 - 7:00 am
Perhaps it has not occurred to critics like Lazzaro that our real fiscal cliff overlooks the economic consequences Foreman describes. In that context, what does it matter if stock and bond markets plunge in the immediate future? Worrying about tomorrow’s markets while ignoring the consequences of unchecked spending is like refusing to set a broken bone on account of immediate pain, hardly reasonable or prudent.
Foreman’s most critical observation is that higher taxes cannot solve the debt crisis:
According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, if you taxed income over $250,000 you’d raise $56 billion next year and only solve 5 percent of a $1 trillion dollar deficit.
The percentage reassures no more when adjusted for the $400,000 mark agreed to by Congress. So when Tea Party-backed Republicans in the House stand firm against a non-solution like the one just passed, they prove themselves to be the adults in the room.
As the Tea Party continues to engage the culture, confronting blind reverence for compromise will be a necessity. The characterization of the Tea Party as uncompromising is silly in a context where every choice offered by Democrats is a different way to die. That point has to be made aggressively by Tea Party members of Congress as they approach the debt ceiling battle. If President Obama and Senator Reid want compromise, they are going to have to start from the same point of fundamental agreement where Simpson and Bowles are. Spending must be cut. From there, we can negotiate how much.
Of course, that’s unlikely to be how the debate is framed. The self-styled progressives dominating the White House and the Senate know all too well how compromise works. They are masters at crafting contextual narratives in which any deal will default in their favor. In the case of taxes, the preferred tactic is to propose vast tax increases and then “meet Republicans halfway” by offering lower hikes on fewer earners, all leading to an endgame of accusing opponents of “protecting millionaires and billionaires.” Agreeing to public discourse on those terms is agreeing to lose in advance.
Instead, stout-hearted Republicans and their Tea Party supporters need to define the terms of debate. Any proposal absent real spending cuts cannot be taken seriously, and short-range fear-mongering like Lazzaro’s must be answered with sobering facts like Foreman’s. When compromise is eventually reached, let it be in service of fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, what’s the point?
More on the future of the Tea Party at PJ Lifestyle from Walter Hudson: