There has been much talk amongst the Washington power elites about “compromise” in the aftermath of the Republican midterm victories. The punditry — especially the left-leaning punditry — has been in a tizzy about the need for President Obama and Congressional Republicans to meet half-way. The message of the election, we are being told by all of the smart politicians and their strategists, was that the American people want Republicans and Democrats to find common ground, compromise and work together.
Here’s the rub: nobody has defined “compromise.” That, I’m afraid, would require a level of honesty that is unattainable in Washington. Why? Because it would force an admission that the election had nothing to do with compromise. The message of the election was not about left and right meeting in the middle. It was not about compromise and working together.
The election was about two radically different philosophies of governance. The traditional conservative philosophy of limited federal power, less government spending and low taxes for everyone versus the liberal philosophy of a bigger federal government, more government spending and higher taxes on everyone. The conservative side won.
It is undeniable that the vast majority of voters cast their ballots for candidates who promised less burdensome government, less government spending and lower taxes. It is undeniable that the voters were casting their ballots to send a message: no more deficits, no more debt. This was the first election in my lifetime in which traditional conservative principles married the inescapable practical realities that we just can’t afford this stuff anymore.
So, to me and the millions of American voters who put Republicans back in the majority in the House and closed the gap significantly in the Senate, compromise would be President Obama and what’s left of the Democrat congressional caucus agreeing to cut whole agencies that serve no purpose other than self-perpetuation. It would require an acknowledgement from the left that we just can’t afford all of the well-intentioned but serially failing government programs — including the entitlement programs — that have put us on a par with Greece. The so-called independent voters who joined with Republicans hear the “giant sucking sound” of the money they earned being pulled from their pockets to bail out everyone else (read TARP and the stimulus) and pay for bloated bureaucracies (read Obamacare) at every level of government. They feel the crushing weight of a $13 trillion national debt that is growing exponentially while Washington plays “Who can spend more?”
Compromise would be an acknowledgement from both left and right that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the welfare state are bankrupting America today and will, if left as is, destroy us tomorrow. It means that both sides have to be honest about the failure of these sacred cows to actually do what they were supposed to do: provide a comfortable retirement for those who hadn’t the means to save enough; provide medical care for seniors and the indigent while keeping costs down; and pull the poor out of poverty. Last time we checked, Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme (hat tip to Texas Governor Rick Perry) that costs the young a ton and gives the old a pittance; Medicare and Medicaid, through price fixing, lack of competition and insane amounts of bureaucratic red tape and paperwork are having the effect of increasing costs, lowering quality and worst of all, lowering the incentives for talented people to want to become doctors; and finally, the welfare state, which is 100% the creation of the left, has failed by every reasonable metric that could be applied. The Great Society has produced a bloated bureaucracy that has kept generations of welfare recipients mired in poverty, living off food stamps and constrained in Section 8 housing projects that to this day are still infested with crime, drugs and out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy. Forty years, trillions of dollars and nothing to show for it but intergenerational poverty.
Compromise would be an end to the left’s class warfare. It would require an acknowledgement from Democrats that wealthy Americans are not the bad guys who don’t pay their fair share. Since when is about 40% of one’s income not a fair share? And that’s just the federal bite. Add state and local income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and fees and the “wealthy” are paying over 50% of their income to the tax man. It would require an acknowledgement that all legitimate businesses — big and small — are the engines of economic success. It would require that the right stop worrying about the “messaging” and stand up for everyone’s right to pursue happiness, not just the middle-class and small business owners.
Compromise is not taxing one group to appease another. Compromise is not spending more here and less there. Compromise is not ignoring the exponential growth of the entitlement programs that are fueling the exponential growth of this liberty-killing national debt.
Compromise is starting with the reality that the government needs to stop spending, get smaller, tax everyone less and get out of our way.
Compromise would be an understanding that every single nickel the federal government has was taken from individual Americans (and that includes corporations which are simply groups of people). The government can’t create wealth. Government can only redistribute wealth — something President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats believe in and the reason America tossed Nancy and her cohorts into the minority. Americans who believe in the Constitution as written do not like wealth redistribution because it just isn’t in the Constitution and runs counter to every principle established by the Constitution.
So, compromise would simply be prioritizing what gets cut first and working from there. As a conservative, I’ll offer massive cuts to the Defense Department, which I will be the first to admit has plenty of worthless bureaucrats. Now, my friends on the left, you come to the table with Labor, HUD, Education, Commerce, Energy, Transportation, HHS and every welfare program and entitlement on the books. Then we can move on to tax cuts and cutting the red tape. That would be the beginning of honest compromise.
Mark Corallo is the owner of Corallo Media Strategies, Inc, an Alexandria, Virginia Public Relations firm.