I’m really getting tired of the ‘politically correct’ commentators who come on and lay our troubles on the ‘unwilling to compromise’ Tea Party Republicans.
Over and over we hear that our long term debt is driven by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and that these must be reformed if we ever want to solve our long term debt problem. We are told that these unfunded mandates will cost over $70 trillion dollars in the foreseeable future.
At the same time we are told that the unwillingness to compromise is preventing these problems from being addressed.
This is total hogwash! The simple fact is that there can be no compromise when one of the parties will not admit to a problem.
This is the case today. Democrats continue to insist that there is no problem with Social Security. They also insist that the Affordable Care Act will resolve the Medicare and Medicaid problem even though it does nothing to lower the cost of health care other than mandating the cost of treatment. (Has a mandated price ever created more of the product? No, it invariably results in supply shortages!)
How can you compromise with that position?
The only compromise that has been possible is on who is taxed and how much they will be taxed. Unfortunately, the Democrats won’t even maintain their position on this. At one point they state that no taxes should be increased because that would hinder the economic recovery. Now they contend that taxes should increase on the ‘rich’, but are inconsistent on what they consider is ‘rich’.
How can you compromise with a moving target?
Now the pundits are screaming about the ‘disaster’ of a government shutdown. Hey I lived through the last government shutdown and it’s no big deal. Just like the screaming about the dire consequences of the sequester, a government shutdown is a ‘non event’. Essential services continue to be funded. A shutdown impacts ‘discretionary’ spending. Spending that we could do without and most of us won’t even be aware that it has been halted.
The concern about a possible default if the debt ceiling isn’t extended is much more real. In spite of some pundits poo-pooing the likelihood of default (failure to pay interest on our debt) this is much more likely to happen. Non-discretionary spending (entitlements and interest) nearly equal revenue from taxes. Through in defense spending and we exceed those revenue. In this case we would have a choice, either dramatically reduce defense spending or default on paying interest. Given that choice and the dangerous world we live in it seems much more likely that we would default on interest payments.
So, let’s remember what is valid. Compromise requires both parties to recognize an issue and thus compromise on a solution. Closing down the government is not likely to cause any immediate catastrophe and just might jar the two parties into recognizing a common issue that could lead to compromise.