No Grand Bargains with Democrats
Charles Krauthammer is wrong and Mitch McConnell's right. At least Senator McConnell was right back in July when he said the GOP's priority is to defeat Barack Obama in 2012. And convincingly win GOP congressional majorities, too. On the other hand, Dr. Krauthammer has a new Washington Post column calling for a "grand compromise" between Democrats and Republicans to achieve monumental deficit and debt reduction. Dr. Krauthammer's argument is flawed on many levels. Let's take a look.
First, Dr. Krauthammer is relying on the so-called super-committee created by the recent debt deal between President Obama and Republicans to drive historic change. Good luck. Committees anywhere tend to be unwieldy; self-serving members bring their own agendas, forcing compromises that dilute focus and result in elephants being created where giraffes were needed.
A congressional super-committee will seethe with self-obsessed and scheming members and left-leaning ideologues (perhaps half its members) who believe the nation now has the government they want -- except it's not big enough or profligate enough. The chances for chicanery, sabotage, and bogus smoke-and-mirrors results are high.
Dr. Krauthammer offers a three-step approach to gaining big deficit and debt reductions that he even admits would require the super-committee's "precise sequencing." Once again, good luck. Congress is known more for building Rube Goldberg contraptions that are mighty impressive but are needlessly complicated and yield meager results -- if that.
If Dr. Krauthammer's grand compromise hinges on "precise sequencing," he should recommend that diamond-cutters or fighter pilots take charge; the nation would be in better hands with either group.
Of course, no grand compromise would be complete without tax hikes. Pardon. Revenue enhancements. Dr. Krauthammer argues that once the super-committee has dispensed with tax reform (a laudable idea), it can then agree to "slightly tweaking" the new lower tax rates arrived at through reform to increase revenues.
Here, Dr. Krauthammer concedes a fundamental point to Democrats that needn't be conceded. The nation is in trouble not because Uncle Sam lacks tax money; the national government is in trouble because it's too big and borrows and spends wildly. This isn't a mere political difference. This is basic to conservatives' argument that big government is the problem, and that the national government needs deep restructuring and downsizing. That is, if one isn't still working from the premise that big government is here to stay.
Dr. Krauthammer's entitlement reforms don't go far enough, either. Raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare eligibility, means-testing, and changing the inflation formula aren't far-reaching enough. For younger Americans, roadways (not pathways) need to be built that permits them to invest portions of their earnings outside Social Security and seek old-age medical coverage in the private sector. Genuine structural reform points the way to solutions and alternatives outside government.
Grassroots conservatives -- Tea Partiers -- are seeking a truly historic paradigm shift in government. The Tea Party is a movement animated by first principles and the founders' vision of limited government. The Tea Party movement isn't an exercise in nostalgia or wishful thinking, but a genuine force with a deadly serious aim of bringing revolutionary change (in the context of the American experience) to the nation.
Which brings us to Senator McConnell's July declaration. The senator is damn right that Barack Obama needs to be beaten by a conservative Republican in 2012. Conservative-dominated majorities need to be installed in the House and Senate (okay, so Mitch McConnell didn't say conservative).
If America is going to be saved, it won't be on the back of some nicely contrived "grand compromise," but on a conservative-driven reform agenda that courageously confronts the massive troubles created by eighty years of big government. There's little room for difference-splitting when the issue is what type of government the nation should have -- in fact, what sort of nation America should be. The Democrats seem to grasp the fundamental nature of the struggle underway; establishment Republicans (and DC's petting-zoo conservatives) do not.
In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt wasn't proposing grand compromises with his Republican opponents. FDR was more than happy to co-opt witless or spineless Republicans, but the new America FDR and the New Dealers were forging would be on their terms exclusively. FDR won, and the nation is now living with the woeful consequences, lo these many years later.
Conservatives should be no less resolved than FDR. Vanquishing Democrats next year is essential to righting the nation. Driving a legislative agenda in 2013 that restores lost liberties and frees Americans to be wealth-producers by transforming and limiting government isn't a choice.
Dr. Krauthammer's super-committee formula misses the enormous overarching struggle underway for the nation's future. That struggle needs ideas that are bigger, grander, and more fundamental than the good doctor is offering. Conservatives have those ideas.