The Necessity and Inevitability of Compromise

I’m gonna catch some heat for this one, fer sher….

Too often, when people hear the word “compromise”, they equate it with betrayal of principles or the undermining of credibility or of an agenda. But, neither is necessary.

As any negotiator will tell you, some measure of compromise is required in order for both parties to feel like they were at least partially successful. A win-win solution. Marriage experts tell us that compromise is a necessary component of a successful marriage. It’s just a reality. Unless two individuals or groups see eye-to-eye on an issue, they are going to need to compromise on some things, at some times, in order to continue working together.

Congressional debt-ceiling negotiations are no different.

hands shakingNaturally, I fully support the cutting of spending, as long as it includes substantial cuts in current spending and doesn’t gut the military. Capping future spending is a terrific idea. Balancing the budget is just plain common sense. It has been done before, and I am in favor of a Constitutional amendment to ensure it. I am against the raising of any taxes, though I am not opposed to closing various loopholes and possibly eliminating some exemptions. (These would be potential concessions to be negotiated.) For one thing, it would make completing my TurboTax tax return software that much easier. To raise taxes, especially in our current economic conditions, would be foolhardy. And, of course, I reeeeeaaaaalllyyy do not think the debt ceiling should be increased, as a matter of principle and practicality. We are in way too deep as it is. I have signed surveys and letters to Congress saying as much.

But, something has got to give. The two sides to this discussion are far enough apart ideologically that they are simply at loggerheads. I’m not surprised. But, they (and we) need to be realistic about this. If our government is going to move forward and not risk further economic upheaval, some sort of compromise has got to be reached, and soon. And, I would rather not see anyone manifesting foolishness (e.g., believing promises of future cuts or executive orders; insisting on an unreachable outcome) or resorting to corruption (e.g., intimidation, extortion, bribery).

Some will maintain a stubborn, all-or-nothing approach. (Yes, Michele Bachmann, I’m talking to you, too.) This is the same attitude of some in the pro-life movement who will only support legislation that fully criminalizes any and all abortions, under any circumstances, immediately. As much as I would like to see that happen, it isn’t a realistic expectation (barring divine intervention). In the mean time, legislation that at least reduces taxpayer funding for abortion, educates those contemplating abortion, makes it difficult for pro-choicers to push their cause and pass pro-choice-friendly legislation, etc., does save lives and continues progress toward the ultimate goal. It isn’t a betrayal or sacrifice of principle; it is a realistic, pragmatic (yet, hopefully temporary) solution and a step in the right direction. Similarly, our leaders in Congress and the Oval Office need to realize that, outside of their opponent suddenly caving in to all demands, a fair and workable solution has to be hammered out. That means give a little to get a little. I think Boehner & Co. are trying to do that.

I don’t know if the “Cut, Cap and Balance Act” is the best solution. (I liked it OK.) Maybe it’s Boehner’s current plan. (I hope not.) Maybe it’s McConnell’s plan. (I really hope not.) Maybe it’s something else. Nobody will be completely satisfied or get everything they want, but that’s the nature of the “game”. (No, I’m not diminishing what’s at stake.) Some compromise must be reached, and it must be pragmatic, responsible, preferably long-term, and soon.

If both sides hold their breath until the end, we all lose. So, let’s get creative, ladies and gentlemen. I know a mutually agreeable solution ain’t easy, but it can be done!


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