Last night I was talking to a Tea Party advocate about the concept of compromise. Of course, he is against compromising, I am for it on occasion. I asked him a simple question that he couldn't really answer -- "Do you think that the Republicans can deal with our $14 trillion debt without bipartisan support?" He tried to sidestep the question by blasting the Democrats as being fervently against dealing with deficit spending. It doesn't take a lot of research to understand that Republicans and Democrats have both been guilty of deficit spending throughout modern history (even our beloved Ronald Reagan). Only George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have had any success in dealing with the problem.
The bottom line is that dealing with deficit spending is highly unpopular. Poll after poll has shown that the American people want to get rid of the deficit, but when asked to evaluate how to accomplish their wishes, they find all of the tools for dealing with deficit spending unacceptable. Paul Ryan has come up with a way to deal the debt, but his plan is widely unpopular.
And there is a reason why Ryan's plan will never become law. It places the hurt from cuts to deficit spending almost completely on the Democratic Party's constituency. Medicare cuts? Well, yes, but after ten years. The current seniors (arguably the ones most responsible for our debt) are off the hook. They also happen to lean Republican. Medicaid cuts? Yes, and immediately. Medicaid beneficiaries vote Democrat. And then let's sprinkle in some tax cuts for upper middle class families.
On the surface, I am completely find with all of that, except that I know that it will never get passed. What we need to do instead is spread the hurt around (not spreading the wealth). That is the only fair way to do. We all share some of the blame for our $14 trillion debt. We should all feel some of the pain.
And by the way, if the Republicans would follow such a strategy, they would find electoral success. The Republican Party would all of sudden look like a party that cares about governing, and not just protesting.