“we are committed to working together to help forge a balanced bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy.”
|Photos from TPM|
But now three important GOP senators are saying yes to a bi-partisan compromise that will save some important programs, maintain defense preparedness, and pay for it with some enhancements to revenue. Those who criticized the president's team for seeming weak during last year's budget negotiations should remember that this Republican cave was baked into that budget agreement at that time. This week's letter from the new Gang of Six happened because people like Barack Obama and Harry Reid were smart enough to craft a deal that foresaw this development. They might have had a slight hope that the twelve member super-committee might have reached the necessary bi-partisan budget agreement last year to avoid sequestration next year. But that was not to be, because the Republican members were wedded to their NO. The fail safe mechanism built into the agreement was to allow time after the 2012 election to make the necessary agreement. Republicans went along hoping that President Obama would be defeated for re-election, and they might still get their way after the election without having to compromise on taxes. But now Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte are recognizing the necessity of starting to work on a compromise, probably based on the expectation that Obama will win re-election, but perhaps even in the event that he loses.
(I would almost want to see, perhaps acted out in some alternative universe, what would happen in the event of a Romney victory in November, after Senators recognized that they still needed to reach a bi-partisan compromise to avoid sequestration. Imagine the first act of Congress in a Romney administration being to raise taxes. And Romney having to explain, well, I know I promised that on day one I was going to repeal Obamacare, but actually I don't have the votes to do that, and instead I have to raise taxes so that we don't have to put major parts of our military in mothballs. People like John McCain and Lindsey Graham are finally willing to stand up and explain that this is going to happen, folks, regardless of who wins the presidential election.)
Democrats are going to have to compromise also, and when they go along with cuts to popular benefit programs, there is going to be a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in Democratic quarters. But the more important breach in the dike of resistance is among Republicans. Once Republicans admit that we cannot solve the deficit without considering revenue as well as expenses; once they recognize publicly that we as a nation have to be grown up enough to pay for all the government services that people want; once they admit that asking the wealthy to contribute a bit more is actually conceivable; the game they have been playing the last few years is over. Grover Norquist's veto power over any reasonable budget agreement will be broken. And the idea of Democrats and Republicans actually sitting down at the table together for some honest give-and-take becomes not only possible but unavoidable.