Thursday, April 11, 2013

What Grand Bargain?

Some people are talking about a grand bargain on the federal budget.  Joe Klein, for instance.

You can look at the president's FY14 budget at

Well, sorta.  Joe says that Congress is fed up with the broken budget process and may do a deal this year.  He sees a moderate compromise of entitlement cuts and increased revenue.  And President Obama may possibly join in.  He's apparently "stopped trying to bang his head up against John Boehner and the Tea Party crowd."

Really?  The chap who's planning to flip the House of Representatives in 2014 with Organizing for America?

If the president were planning on a grand bargain, he would have started months, maybe years ago.  To get Democrats to sign on to entitlement reform and Republicans to sign onto tax increases would have required the patience and the political skills of -- well, a Reagan.  And President Obama is not that kind of politician.  He made his chops as a community organizer, riling up the welfare-state beneficiaries to demand their "rights."  And that's what he likes doing.

The death of Margaret Thatcher this week shows what I mean.  Thatcher came into office with a program, and she diligently and doggedly stuck to her guns for nearly 12 years.  This meant a huge effort in developing the intellectual horizon of what she wanted to do and then implement it in the hard daily grind of political and administrative details.

In President Obama we do see an intellectual horizon.  It's the liberal horizon of a bigger and bigger administrative state.  To the extent that we see the evidence of a hard daily grind it is clearly devoted to implementing that liberal vision.

Why would President Obama compromise anything away now?

Liberals will only be ready to compromise when they see political power slipping away, and today, they are very far from that.  In fact, liberals think the have an "emerging Democratic majority" of minorities, women, educated and the young, that will make them the default party of government for the next generation.

The job of Republicans right now is to be the Party of No.  Entitlement cuts?  Maybe, but not if it means anti-growth tax increases.  That's because the bottom line for Republicans, as the party of the People of the Responsible Self, is that Republican voters should have an economy in which they can make an honest living.

Democrats live and die on the free stuff they have won for their clients.  Republicans live and die on the ability of their voters to work and thrive.  Don't look for a grand bargain until one of the two parties fears annihilation at the polls.

Maybe in 2015 after the Democrats get annihilated by the unpopularity of ObamaCare?

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