As we all learned in high school, politics is the art of compromise, a process of give-and-take. When one party becomes intransigent and refuses to bargain, the process breaks down.
That’s what happened in Washington this summer. We’re happy a “deal” was finally reached to get the debt ceiling raised and avoid a devastating default that would have further crippled the economy. We’re glad it at least protects Social Security, food stamps and, in large part, Medicare, regardless of what the bipartisan legislative committee recommends in November. (But who ever thought we’d be counting these as victories?)
From the beginning, President Barack Obama offered to make cuts to valuable programs while raising new revenues by removing corporate-tax loopholes and hiking the tax rate for the country’s wealthiest citizens. Maybe he offered too much too soon—but at least he understood that compromise was necessary.
What did House Republicans do? They turned down the offer, because it raised taxes, something to which they are ideologically opposed. Yes, a group of tea-party zealots in the House was willing to sidetrack the economy all summer and nearly destroy the full faith and credit of the United States in order to maintain ideological purity. Let’s call this what it is: extremism of a dangerous sort. Why aren’t people outraged?