Chris Beam thinks we might be better off with a partisan effort to reduce the deficit:
Any serious effort to do Something Important—eliminating the debt, for example—is more likely to succeed by exploiting partisanship than by trying to overcome it....Say Democrats take back the House in 2012, and Obama wins a second term. With majorities once again in Congress, Obama could tackle the deficit with a Democratic set of solutions: chop military spending, impose a gas tax, raise taxes on the rich. Or say Republicans take the presidency in two years, along with the Senate. They could implement all the policies liberals hate, like slashing domestic spending, raising the retirement age, and flattening the tax code.
Kevin Drum notes that the filibuster is a pretty big obstacle to this, which is true, but it's worth noting (again) that the last two major deficit-reduction packages have been partisan affairs. The Omnibus Budget Act of 1993 and the Affordable Care Act were passed over unanimous Republican objection in the House and Senate. When it comes to deficit reduction, the dynamic isn't "Democrats and Republicans can't agree," it's that Republicans have no interest in working to reduce the deficit, even when they stand to benefit by cooperating.
At some point, Washington observers will notice the fact that the GOP only cares about the deficit when they can blame Democrats for it (after devoting their time in power to ruining the nation's finances). When it comes to actually reducing the deficit, Republicans are complete no shows.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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