It is said that you can tell a good compromise because nobody is happy. The idea is that both sides have given significantly and that a higher goal has been met. It involves a common commitment to a definable end. Next, it involves both sides sharing their deepest hopes and dreams and then trading back and forth, giving a little here and a little there, until a solution is reached that reflects both sides giving up roughly equivalent amounts and that definable end being met. I believe in compromise. My wife would tell you that all too often I give too much.
What happened in Washington today was not a compromise. It was capitulation. Let me tell you why.
First off, there was no common definable end. There is a significant number in the Republican party who basically do not believe in a strong federal government. How can compromised be reached regarding government spending when some parties do not believe in government?
Second, there are some in the Republican party who do not have the best interest of the American people at heart. Mitch McConnell has proudly said that his primary goal is to see that Obama is a one term president. The easiest way to see that happen is to see the economy crash and burn. On the other hand, if the recovery took off like gang busters tomorrow, his goal would be impossible. So, tell me, what his strategy should be? And then there are some of the Tea Party folk who truly do believe that a strong federal government is a bad thing. Finally, there are those who are beholden to very wealthy and connected benefactors who are doing quite well with the status quo and don't want to see a stronger, more educated, more active middle class.
Third, nobody brought the liberal concerns to the discussion. Yes, I have heard many conservatives call Obama a socialist or even a communist. He isn't. Let me say that again, HE ISN'T. At best he is a centrist pragmatist. I have been saying since before he even won the nomination that he is right of center. I can't think of one thing he has done that would make me conclude otherwise. True, he is to the left of Michele Bachmann... but that still doesn't make him a liberal. It makes him sensible. So, what did liberals want that never even got discussed? Liberals wanted significant cuts in the military including an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not on the table. Indeed, discussions about military cuts usually still involve significant increases over current spending, just cuts in proposed increases. Liberals wanted significant increases in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Never even in the same room. Liberals wanted to see deficit reduction come long after job creation which they see as requiring more, not less spending. That wasn't even discussed. Liberals want to see a plan for controlling medical costs that removes the profit motive from medical care. That wasn't even seriously discussed when Obama's medical plans were being raised let alone now. Liberals wanted separate talks regarding the debt ceiling and other economic issues. Again, never discussed. The liberals got none of their hopes or dreams. What did they receive? Medicare and Social Security were not cut... but the Republicans didn't really want them cut anyway or they would never have been re-elected. Now they can blame any fiscal problems on the Dems who refused to cut in areas they never would have cut anyway.
The conservatives got everything they wanted and more. They moved the discussion from jobs to deficit without showing how the two are even remotely related. No increases in taxes were discussed or are on the table for the future. Indeed, McConnell has promised that any representatives he sends to the "super congress" will be strong anti-tax increase folk. Again, they will be in a position to completely derail any possibilities of true compromise. They received significant cuts in the social programs upon which poor and middle class folk rely with more to come without touching the third rails of SS or Medicare. What did they give up? They didn't get a balanced budget amendment... which likely would never have passed anyway as it is simply a stupid idea. They didn't get cuts in Social Security or Medicare - see above. Now it is true that the truly anti-government crowd did not get to bring down the government... but did anyone with any sense really want that?