In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, columnist David Brooks (allegedly a conservative) asserted that “there are Democrats in the White House and elsewhere who would be willing to accept Medicare cuts if the Republicans would be willing to increase revenues [i.e., tax rates].” Brooks claims that the “Republican Party may no longer be a normal party” because they “[have] been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.”
This spirit of Democratic compromise will be news to Rep. Paul Ryan who was recently portrayed by the left-of-center Agenda Project pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff for proposing to reform Medicare. Brooks’ contention will also be news to New York State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who recently lost a special election to the New York 26th Congressional District at least in part due to Democratic “Mediscare” tactics.
The absence of a “practical, governing alternative” will likewise be news to Rep. Ryan, who has proposed a budget that would stabilize the national debt as a percentage of GDP and restore the size of government to its historical average. It will be news to the 235 Republican House Members who voted in favor of that budget. The Democrats’ possession of a “practical, governing alternative” will be news to the 97 Senators who rejected the only alternative to Rep. Ryan’s Budget yet voted upon in the Senate of the 112th Congress; namely, President Obama’s February Budget.
Brooks claims that “[the Republican Party] is being offered the deal of the century…trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.” Brooks must have an ear in the behind-closed-door negotiations, as he also asserts without basis that “[Republicans are] not being asked to raise marginal tax rates.”
Brooks forgets that in a negotiation, whether on the national debt ceiling or the NFL lockout, nothing is settled until everything is settled. If Republicans were to publicly concede to a “3-to-1 rate of spending cuts to revenue increases” they would concede to Democrats the ability to dictate what those cuts and taxes would be. That of course assumes that the Democrats’ chosen cuts would even be made: In the 1982 Budget negotiations, President Reagan was promised the same “3-to-1 rate.” He actually received less than 0-to-1.