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Making room for budget compromises

At long last, it appears common sense is penetrating the Republican Party. A significant minority of Republicans running for Congress this year have said they will not sign the so-called Norquist pledge to oppose all measures that would increase taxes on individuals or businesses. This refusal is a necessary step toward an honest negotiation on how to best reduce the federal deficit. Any reasonable solution must consist of both spending cuts and tax revenue.

In drawing up the pledge more than 25 years ago, lobbyist Grover Norquist created a political monster. All but six House Republicans have signed it. Such ideological rigidity has imperiled Washington's ability to compromise, such as when most congressional Republicans opposed any deal last year to raise the national debt ceiling that involved increasing tax revenue. But it appears the next generation of Republicans could prove wiser. At least one-third of the party's most highly touted candidates for Congress have refused to sign Norquist's pledge, citing the liabilities it would create when negotiating a new debt deal. It also helps that former Gov. Jeb Bush expressed a similar view last week while testifying before a congressional committee.

That is a welcome sign that a culture of compromise in Washington might not be just a pipe dream. In 2010, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the so-called Bowles-Simpson commission, demonstrated that a bipartisan agreement on fiscal reform is possible. A majority of the group recommended a bold series of measures that utilized both tax revenue and spending cuts. The plan wasn't perfect, but it demonstrated what can be accomplished when both sides are willing to cross the aisle.

Simply cutting government spending without considering additional revenue through closing tax loopholes or raising taxes is a recipe for continued economic malaise. That some Republican candidates are recognizing the limits of hard-line politics in finding solutions is encouraging indeed.

Making room for budget compromises 06/04/12 [Last modified: Monday, June 4, 2012 5:30pm]
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