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The issue is whether most Congressional Republicans understand that ruling out any and all means for generating additional revenue — we call that “raising taxes” on this planet — makes it impossible to arrive at a compromise with Democrats, who have very different views of the role of government and who hold both the Senate and the White House.
For Democrats, raising taxes to produce additional revenue is preferable to many spending cuts.
Whether Republican Members of Congress agree with them is irrelevant. The nature of our system requires legislators to support spending and some policies that they don’t necessarily like. It’s the art of the deal.
For Republicans to refuse to consider an entire strategy for dealing with the deficit and debt precludes any kind of compromise — and any kind of deal, at least until they hold the White House, a House majority and at least 60 seats in the Senate.
Unless they are willing to negotiate with the president and Congressional Democrats, Republicans aren’t serious about attacking the deficit.
I should add that some Congressional Republicans are serious. Senators such as Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), neither of whom are on the 2012 ballot, understand that everything has to be on the table — even alternatives they really don’t like — if they are to have any chance of arriving at an agreement with Democrats.
The president needs to show a lot more leadership and Congressional Republicans need to show a lot more flexibility to tackle this problem.
Only when both the folks on the uncompromising left and the uncompromising right start to scream bloody murder will you know that the two parties are serious about getting the nation back on a firm financial footing.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.