Partisanship Is Transparency


A common theme running through much coverage of the debt-ceiling battle is the terrible lack of bipartisanship on display.  A bipartisan compromise is what the country really needs!  “America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise,” President Obama said in his debt ceiling speech on Monday night. 

But that’s not really what we’re talking about here.  Not many participants in the debt ceiling debate are trying to “compromise” with the people who insist that government stop spending gigantic amounts of money, including trillions of dollars it doesn’t have.

In fact, Obama specifically singled those people out as enemies in his speech.  He said a “cuts-only” approach to balancing the budget “doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.”  The top 1% of American income earners currently pay 38% of all personal income taxes, but Obama insists they’re not contributing anything at all.  That’s not “compromise,” it’s tyranny, not to mention a bald-faced lie.

Let’s try that sentence from Obama’s speech, edited to replace the class-warfare garbage with objective truth: “The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the people who currently pay 38% of all personal income taxes, or the biggest corporations, to contribute more than they already do.”  It doesn’t work as well, does it?

Somehow these grand “compromises” always begin with the statists bidding high, and the rest of us forced to swallow giving them 90% of what they wanted as “the best deal we could get.”  Obama began the current budget crisis by demanding a “clean” grant of trillions in new debt.  Now a huge battle is raging on Capitol Hill over proposals to give him his trillions in debt, in exchange for something like a .0001% cut in spending right now, and promises to strongly urge future Congresses and Presidents to cut more.

The end of “bipartisanship” is the beginning of transparency.  This budget battle is an important moment in history, with ramifications that will affect all Americans.  It should be conducted the way it’s being done now: out in the open, with the public watching every step of the way.  Where did all those years of closed-door “bipartisan” commissions and “balanced approaches” get us?

We’re always told that our government’s immense power is valid because we all have some say over how it is used, by electing Congressional representatives and voting for the President.  The conflict between those representatives should be a “partisan” struggle.  Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of politicians bargaining with each other, and trying to keep us from becoming universally angry over the results.

The path of skyrocketing debt and wild government spending is a path of compulsion.  Its proponents aren’t interested in compromising with the people they tax, regulate, manipulate, and punish.  Instead, they present the results from decades of irresponsibility as the reason they don’t have to think about compromising with us. 

We can’t cut government spending – think of all the people who depend on those programs, or work for the government administering them!  We can’t hesitate to raise the debt ceiling – it will ruin Uncle Sam’s credit rating, and we need low interest payments to finance the staggering mountain of debt we’ve run up already!  We’ve got a huge new baseline of spending, and anything less would be a savage “cut,” even though we’d still be spending more!  If you don’t go along with all that, you’re a wild-eyed extremist!

Obama’s description of America as “a grand experiment in compromise” omits an essential truth: compromise is only possible in the absence of compulsion.  Indentured servants don’t reach compromises with their masters.  That shouldn’t be a “partisan” observation… but it is.