On one side of that line would be acceptance that bringing the United States back to a more fiscally sustainable condition will require compromise. According to Obama’s wish, the other side — let’s call it cannibalizing government while comforting the 1 percent — will be toxic to all but the most partisan Republican lawmakers.
Obama told the AP that “for me to be able to say to the Republicans, the election is over; you no longer need to be focused on trying to beat me; what you need to be focused on and what you should have been focused on from the start is how do we advance the American economy — I’m prepared to make a whole range of compromises, some of which I get criticized from the Democratic Party on, in order to make progress. But we’re going to need compromise on your side as well. And the days of viewing compromise as a dirty word need to be over because the American people are tired of it.”
To his credit, Obama is hoping for the best. We should all hope for the same. Regardless of which party wins power in November, the best path forward to balancing our books is a smart combination of tax increases and spending cuts.
Tapping the brakes — if not slamming them — has become the first legislative impulse of our elected representatives in Washington. It’s become standard for the party out of power to simply repeat the word “no,” while stalling until the time when it is favored by the public. Such has always been the case in Washington, but the years since Bill Clinton became president have witnessed a slow decline of what was already a tiresome and inefficient legislative process.
The Obama years have produced an intensity that has turned “compromiser” into the worst Republican slur imaginable. The nation’s budget crisis has stagnated as Republicans held out hope that the next election will turn in their favor. Of course, Republicans are doing their best this week to obscure the fact that the last time they controlled the White House and Congress, their low-taxes/low-regulation policies contributed to the great economic crash of 2008.
In many ways, the current presidential debate is about helping the nation recover from that calamity. The president is correct; once the election is over, it will be time for all sides to work together.