Our View: Compromise not found in Washington
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, came to Riverside and St. Clair County last week bellowing as usual the Republican Party’s entrenched call for spending cuts with no consideration for tax increases, not even among the wealthiest Americans most able to pay.

That call, and the others reverberating around Congress these days, is in response to the looming crisis of their own doing that will cut the federal budget for this fiscal year by $1.2 trillion, about a 9 percent cut. Half will come from defense spending, the other half from all other discretionary spending.

So far, with a March 1 deadline only two days away, neither President Barack Obama nor Congress shows any sign of compromise. For both sides, compromise seems to be doing it their way, or we will just have to face the cuts.

President Obama wants to implement a small income tax increase on those whose incomes put them squarely above most Americans. Yet, Republicans won’t consider any tax increase at all. None.

Instead, they say cut spending. So, if that is the case, it looks like the President is willing to do that, but instead of cutting a little here, perhaps a little more there and whole lot somewhere else, the sequestration rule will simply knock the aforementioned 9 percent off every eligible line in the budget.

Military pay and benefits, along with Social Security checks and Medicare, are protected from the cuts. But all other discretionary accounts, and defense accounts, are subject to the reduction.

That could spell hard times for hundreds of thousands of federal employees whose checks will abruptly end. It could mean long waits for citizens who need passports, or who need to interact with the government on any level in any way.

Rep. Rogers had the crowd with him last week. The place was packed out and when one courageous soul dared disagree with Rep. Rogers, the crowd booed him down.

The congressman took the opportunity, as he always does, to rant about the liberal media, the Democrats in general and President Obama in particular. He seemed offended by the idea that President Obama might want to win enough House seats in the next election for the Democrats to regain control of that body. Of course he does. Of course the Republicans want to win enough seats to retain control. That is called politics, and it is not some vast conspiracy, it is simply the way things are done.

One person attending Roger’s meeting in Riverside said he thought elected officials have lost the ability to compromise.

“I’ve got a large constituency saying not to cave,” Rep. Rogers said in response.

He’s right of course. Most everyone he talks to agrees with him. But he should remember that in the world outside his district, other people have large constituencies saying something else.

President Obama lost Alabama in last year’s election, as was predictable. But despite that predictability, almost 800,000 people in this state voted for him. And nationwide, lest some forget, he won the election, with more than 65 million votes to Mitt Romney’s 60 million plus.

That’s a large constituency as well, and it is telling the President to stay his course.

No doubt both sides are playing politics with this issue. If the crisis does come, both sides will be working as hard pointing fingers at the other as really trying to solve the problem. That’s the situation now and we see little chance of that changing.

We support, as does the President, a balanced approach. We believe that a small tax increase on those who can afford to pay will help fund the programs that should be maintained. We also believe there are federal programs that can be cut—perhaps drastically in some cases—without causing irreparable damage to the country.

We believe in that compromise. Sadly, we also believe it has little chance of success.

© 2013