House Republicans have adopted a budget they say will make tough but necessary spending cuts to rein in our nation’s burgeoning budget deficits. President Obama says the Republican plan is too radical. He hit the road last week to sell his own deficit reduction plan, which he says is more balanced.
So, it’s “game on.”
But just what is the purpose of this game?
If the purpose is to gain advantage for the 2012 elections, then recent events make sense. If, however, the purpose is to build consensus around a fiscal sustainability plan, we’re off on the wrong track. Rather than seeking areas of common ground, which clearly exist, the President and Republican leaders seem more interested in sharpening their differences.
Consider two major issues: tax reform and health care.
In both instances there is the potential for compromise. Indeed, without compromise on health care and taxes, it is hard to see how a meaningful plan for fiscal sustainability can be enacted.
Two bipartisan groups that looked at these issues last year were each able to find consensus, at least around a broad approach.
On tax reform, the Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin commissions both recommended that most tax expenditures – deductions, exclusions and credits – be eliminated or greatly scaled back in exchange...