October 22, 2014

Post-Election Choice: Calamity or Compromise

  • The national debt has grown significantly in recent years due to rising annual deficits. A deficit occurs in any year the government spends more...

Advocates of fiscal reform are reiterating their calls for bipartisan cooperation and compromise in the wake of national elections that left Democrats in control of the White House and the Senate, and Republicans in control of the House.

“The status-quo election tells us this: Republicans cannot plausibly argue that the country has rejected President Obama or a Democratic-led Senate. Democrats cannot plausibly argue that House Republican ideas have been rejected,” says Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby.” The American people have sent them back to Washington to work together in the national interest.”

Bixby said Republicans and Democrats must quickly begin to negotiate a responsible alternative to the year-end “fiscal cliff,” a combination of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts that could throw the U.S. economy back into recession. Many officials in both parties say they hope to find such an alternative, something that many business leaders are now strongly urging Washington to do as well – notably through the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a broad coalition effort supported by Concord.

Bixby cautions that elected officials should not simply kick the deficit-reduction can down the road, however.

“The year-end fiscal cliff is bad,” he wrote in a recent blog post, “but eventually we will need the longer-term deficit reduction produced by the policies comprising the fiscal cliff. It just needs to be phased-in in a more rational way, as proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin recommendations.”

Congress is returning to the Capitol this week. Over the past week leaders in both parties have said they are open to cooperation and compromise. Republicans have indicated they might be willing to agree to higher government revenues as part of a compromise package. Critical issues to be decided, however, include tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers and entitlement reforms that would produce meaningful savings for deficit reduction.  

President Obama is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders later this week at the White House. He is also meeting this week with labor leaders and business executives, including some members of the Fix the Debt coalition.

“Solutions will be impossible,” Bixby warns, “if both parties retreat to their partisan concerns and stubbornly insist that compromise is only something for the other side to do and that any calamity is only the other side’s fault. It’s long past time to stop such unrealistic nonsense.”