When you listen to politicians talk, you hear a lot about compromise and deal making. It occurred to me that compromise means a lot of different things to different people. It is foolish to conclude that a willingness to compromise is either good or bad, unless you know the parameters that will set the framework of the compromise.
It is troubling when RINOs like Boehner, McConnell, Kasich, or Bush lecture us on the merits of compromise, because we have seen that every compromise they make is actually a sellout.
A compromise between Justice Scalia and Justice Alito would likely have been a reasonable compromise though, because they both were likely to use Constitutional parameters for their decisions. However, compromises between McConnell and Obama have been horrible, because the guiding principle was personal self-interest rather than any Constitutional basis. Demands of big corporate or big union donors have outweighed any fidelity to the Constitution or concern about the financial solvency of the Federal Government.
The absence of core principles and legal parameters is what differentiates most politicians’ views of compromise from the rest of us. Unlike many politicians, when we compromise, most of us set parameters based on common sense and financial/legal considerations.
When my wife and I compromise on which restaurant we’re going to, we both know there are reasonable limitations placed on reaching any compromise, such as proximity and cost of the restaurant. We both understand from the start that we will not be spending $50K to charter a plane to Bangladesh for a meal. Since politicians believe they have a bottomless supply of other people’s money, they do not feel bound by the same common sense financial constraints that most of us do.
When we decide to build a new home, we can compromise on the number and size of the rooms. But because of legal restrictions, we know we cannot compromise on a size or design that overlaps our neighbor’s property boundary. So we expect Washington politicians to also abide by the rule of law and stay within Constitutional boundaries. But they have gotten by with ignoring such restraints for so long, that violating the rule of law and the Constitution hardly raises an eyebrow. Arrogant, stupid politicians believe they are immune from the laws that constrain we mere mortals.
Let’s look at a few specifics of how compromise should be used in Washington. When negotiating with the other side about a spending bill, the baseline for negotiations should always be that you never spend more money than you have and you never do anything that violates the Constitution and rule of law. If politicians adhered to these two principles, then negotiations would look very different than what we see now. Rather than dickering on whether they should spend $70 or $80 billion on the Department of Education, they would be negotiating how quickly they could close that unconstitutional Federal Government agency. Unfortunately the GOP uses the liberal Democrat baseline in negotiating by accepting that there should even be a federal Department of Education.
Rather than dickering over how much deficit spending to put in the budget, the GOP should be negotiating how many unconstitutional agencies should be closed in order to balance the budget and pay off the debt. Instead they dicker over how much they should overspend. Democrats set a baseline of overspending by $550 billion, and Republicans set a baseline of overspending by $540 billion. Then Republicans crow about how fiscal conservative they are. The Democrats cry that the GOP is pushing grandma off the cliff, and millions of low-information voters buy into the Kabuki Theater. The reality is that both political parties are thieves stealing from future generations, and there should be criminal sanctions against every single one of them who conspire and participate in this theft.
Until the GOP starts using a balanced budget and the US Constitution as their baseline for all negotiations, they are no better than Democrat-lite.
Allen Tharp is President of the San Antonio Tea Party.
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