Budget Negotiation 101: Avoiding The Fire

Many in the media are proclaiming President Obama’s ‘nonoffer’ offer for a solution to the erstwhile fiscal cliff as ‘brilliant‘ and ‘courageous‘.

No, I am not kidding… read the New York Times or Washington Post.

The left seems to believe they have Republicans where they want them.  And actually, they may be right.  Republicans took a drubbing in the elections, and polls show the public will blame them, and not Democrats, if the fiscal cliff occurs.  And moreover, they don’t think that Republicans have any counter offer that will matter.

So, in answer, I present to you the Bowles-Simpson commission of 2010.

Look, the above commission is not ideal; far from it.  It raises taxes far more than I like and cuts some programs like Medicare far less than I would.

But the reality is we are in a deep dilemma as a party.

We have two choices:  one, walk away from the talks, let the fiscal cliff occur, and take the blame.  In which case we either get lucky and the public forgets their anger at the GOP by the time the 2014 elections roll around (unlikely), or we get crushed and Obama has two years where he is a lame duck but has control of all segments of Washington, D.C. A frightening thought.

The second choice is to present something that may pass that may solve at least a few of our problems.  For all the problems with Bowles-Simpson, it would start to put the country on a track to some fiscal sanity.  It restrains entitlements significantly enough that we have the prospect of avoiding a debt crisis, and forces long term changes to programs that have so far been untouched.

One side benefit:  Liberals hate it.

Sure, it raises taxes.  Tremendously.  But we better start to realize that is coming anyway.  If we walk away from the talks, the Bush tax cuts expire, in which case we actually get a scenario where we raise taxes more than the Commission ever would have.

Of course, the right wing of the party would have to get behind this, which is unlikely but possible.  We should unite as a party, and say we will vote for this solution, lock, stock and barrel.  No one in the media can state this isn’t a serious proposal, after two years of anointing Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as the ‘Guardians of deficit sanity’.  Furthermore, it would show Obama for what he really is:  a paper tiger, and nothing more.  Obama is as unserious about deficit control as any man on the planet, and putting this up would show his true colors.

Sure, passing Bowles-Simpson would hurt.  The economy might take a hit from the tax increases alone.  But the GOP is a party with few open paths before it.  And among the very bad choices we have at hand, this may, at the very least, be a viable path forward.

Cross posted from Neoavatara. 

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