Wrapping up this week means continuing the discussion that has been taking place since Election Day: the nation’s economy and finances. Many say that both parties need to take heed of a couple of points that voters made: the Democrats won the White House but still don’t have a House majority. Republicans, on the other hand, maintained their majority but gave up Senate seats — and it is noteworthy to mention that some of the bigger losses were those suffered by Tea Party-supported candidates.
During the week, Grover Norquist, who is known primarily for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge, was frequently in the news. With the “fiscal cliff” issue looming – whether one thinks it’s a manufactured issue designed to force entitlement reform or not – it points out that compromises must be made. President Obama may have somewhat of an upper hand in that he can let the nation fall over the cliff which would result in across the board tax increases but he’d get the cuts to defense spending he’s wanted — but that would force the issue of everything from a prospective credit rating downgrade and having to back-track in order to get the tax cuts for the middle class (which Democrats and Republicans agree with) to be put back on the table in negotiations. So what does that leave for Republicans? A show of good faith…or, really, political reality?
Perhaps part of the lesson the Republican party learned is that they must change direction on some level. Being perceived as the “Party of No” and the “Obstructionist Party” with the stale, debunked and voter-rejected idea of how tax cuts for the wealthy grows the economy, has hurt the GOP’s image. But in order to get the nation’s finances in order, something has to be sacrificed and compromised. On the left that may mean backing off proposed cuts to the military in order to save programs such as Social Security and Medicare while, on the right, the easiest target is the ‘blood oath’ tax pledge to Grover Norquist signed by Republican representatives.
The number of signatures on Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is being being chipped away, little by little. High-profile Senator of Georgia, Saxby Chambliss, stated that he won’t support the pledge. Now Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has stated, “I will violate the pledge” to not increase taxes and he is joined by New York Rep. Peter King. Even John McCain stated that he would support limiting deductions. If that’s the case, rational thinking would dictate that the starting point for negotiations is the point on which both sides agree: raise revenues by simplifying the tax code, close loopholes that corporations have been slipping through and, of course, take the middle class off the table since both Democrats and Republicans agree that it would be disastrous for the nation’s recovery to impose new taxes on those struggling in the middle of the economic ladder.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said it best when, on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt, he stated this political reality: “Nobody voted for Grover Norquist. He’s the Wizard of Oz; when you pull back the curtain, he’s a schlump.”
If Norquist’s outdated and fiscally damaging pledge is taken off the table, and representatives negotiate based on the country’s financial position rather than party ideology we may see the beginning of a new spirit of bipartisanship in Washington.
Just don’t hold your breath.