On the Deficit Commission

Last weekend, members of the Deficit Commission met with the media. I was in my car on a cross-state trek at the time, but with the glories of XM Radio, I tuned into P.O.T.U.S (channel 132) for the live broadcasts.

Member after member spoke, and what they had to say is easy to summarize.

  • All praised the committee’s leadership.
  • Most (if not all) said good things about someone else on the committee.
  • All addressed the importance of the task.
  • All had something to say about health care, social security, and/or tax policy. Interestingly, these comments were predictable based on their party affiliation.
  • The number of times I heard “I believe” was staggering.

More interestingly is what I did not hear.

  • Not once did I hear, because of the importance of the goal, I will give up (blank).
  • Not once did I hear, what is best for the country will outweigh what is best for my party.

I heard a lot of party rhetoric. While one praises for creating social security solvency, another vows to protect social security cuts. The members of this committee brought their sacred cows to this process and were willing to have cows slaughtered as long as it was not their cows, thus a result of nothing more than political theater as the committee failed to approval a proposal.

Rather than facing the challenge and accepting a sacrifice, too many members stood guard in their political rut in order to protect their interests/ideology. The current Capitol Hill climate favors continues to define seizing the moment as compromise agreeing with my interests and beliefs over any pragmatic common ground.

This committee started an adult conversation about the federal deficit, but the report did not make it out of committee because no enough adults were present. Hmmmm … the apparent agreement on the tax cuts that aren’t paid for is interesting timing.

Thank you John Avalon for this column.

On Random Post-Election Thoughts

On the Two-Way Street
Rightfully so, many are wondering how well President Obama will work with House Republicans, but I also ask one addition question: How well will House Republicans will work with President Obama?

On Mr. Boehner’s Job
In my own warped view, I feel sorry for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the one who presumably has the task of leading the GOP Civil War. It will be interesting to see how he manages the divisions in his party, and working with President Obama.

On the other hand, Mr. Boehner is already using the results to suggest a mandate for GOP policies. In his WSJ opinion, Senator DeMint (R-SC) drew a line in the sand for the Tea Party members. Senator McConnell’s has well publicized that ousting President Obama in 2012 is his top priority. Warning: Independents will not buy that product.

On My Take
My suggestion of governing from the center is throughout this blog. Nevertheless, the overlapping center of the two parties no longer exists, which leads to an all-or-nothing approach.

Republicans say Democrats would not listen; Democrats say Republicans would not play. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that problem – yet America re-elected the majority of incumbents seeking a return to Washington.

President Obama campaigned about bridging the dividing, hence one reason how he captured the majority of independents. Whether by choice, necessity, haste, or simply the way Washington works, he did not deliver – thus Tuesday’s results.

Contrary to what many believe, we pragmatics believe that voters elect presidents to lead a nation – not lead a party. Although a political ideology frames any elected official, a president needs to know when to shove, when to compromise, and when to give way. Heaven forbid if Capitol Hill did the same. Therefore, unless their is an unexpected significant event that brings the nation together, the next two years could be ugly.

On a Game Show Analogy for the Times

The other day I was thinking about the beginning of a television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The initial once-a-week phenomenon hosted by Regis Philbin was a prime-time success. As ratings soared, the network expanded to two then three, and possibly more evenings. The show eventually peaked, got scaled back, and is now a regular component for daytime viewing; but no longer a craze.

The network’s rationale is obvious – cash in on those advertising revenues when you can – a get the money when you can approach. The eventually losers in the methodology are the viewers whose interest fades due to overexposure, thus ratings and revenue subsequently fall; but the networks had a successful cash cow.

Through the years I’ve seen this happen with other shows; in the same way I’ve watched political parties whose prominence ebbs and flows. Currently, the Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Capitol Hill and occupy the White House. The same was true for Republicans not all that long ago. And of course transition periods of divided power also occur.

In any time on single party dominance, their behavior is similar to the networks – you know, get it while you can. The Democrats know they must maximize their use of the time because it won’t last – and just like the last time the Republicans dominated the power – and the time before that with the Democrats.

So during our country’s time of need, a time when we could use a patriotic grace to do what is needed – what is right – let us remember that the party in power seeks to get it while it can – but, in this case, at the citizen’s expense – and the same would be true if the other party was in power because political parties practice their mantra – party first.