Something Big Lurks Just Ahead...

Paul Evans

The only path for success in our hyper-partisan environment is to gore every ox; we may need even have to invent new traumas to inflict – in order to satisfy everyone, everywhere, that the pain was spread deep and wide enough…

We may not like it – even a little bit – but it appears the President is on the verge of making a GRAND Bargain.

The President wants a budget controlling, pro-growth agreement in place before he becomes irrelevant in American Politics. History tells us that when it comes to Domestic Policy, this timer has a little less than eighteen months: and four of them have expired…

I have no crystal ball. I was never a senior staff (or any kind of paid staffer for that matter) in DC, and I did not sleep in a Holiday Inn (Express) last night.

But the noises we are hearing, the positioning we are seeing, and the thunderous silence from certain/specific elements of the DC circus are pointing to an emerging likelihood that the President and key members of the Congress may have a notion of what could make a deal possible in the near-term.

Conventional wisdom says the sides are dug-in: no more revenues from Republicans, no cuts to the Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security entitlements from Democrats. And this makes sense, as long as we are talking about “small ball.”

What if the discussions were about “cutting” $4 to $6 Trillion over the next decade instead of $1.3? Tea Party folks are quick to remind elected Republicans of the pushback suffered by George Herbert Walker Bush when he “caved” (read: did the responsible thing) in 1990.

However, another Republican President may be more important for us to remember: Nixon in China…

Only McConnell could push loop-hole closure and corporate tax reform; only Obama could push for revamping Medicare Part B and D qualification and payment formularies. Boehner is holding onto his power for another, bigger solution – one that would be “worth his gavel” – knowing that if done right, it would actually secure it.

Right now everyone “wins” if the Congress is understood to be incompetent: the Democrats win through targeted fundraising aimed at retaking the House; the Republicans win through an ongoing struggle against the President (seeking to sidestep messy primaries in at least a dozen states).

At a certain and specific moment the pressures upon all sides will crystallize and the opportunity cost of “not” doing something big – grand – GRANDER – will be too much, too historic, for the President and his adversaries to lose.

Watch what is NOT being said at least as much as what is being said; watch who is “out front” on the current trench warfare and who is not. Something is afoot, and the dinner diplomacy that is getting so much play in the news is a diversion.

The President’s new chief of staff is an old senate hand: he “was there” when Daschle made the Senate functional during the initial phases of the George W. Bush era – when we were all united against a common foe.

Good policy is always good politics. Great policy is historic; I suspect Obama and his team are just as upset as we are (if not more so) about how the Bush years squandered our diplomatic, financial, and military power.

Men and women of courage from both sides of the aisle are frustrated with the way Wall Street managed to benefit at the expense of Main Street: many still want some sort of reparations – something that will not happen in the shadow of a GRAND Bargain.

And many of us, aware of how hard the struggle is for wage-earners dependent upon the social safety-nets will scream aloud about the injustices associated with “chaining” the costs of the programs that the rich will never have to depend upon.

But a GRAND Bargain – an historic agreement that could transform our nation – will require shared sacrifice, a truckload of patience, and not a little amount of temper-management.

The only path for success in our hyper-partisan environment is to gore every ox; we may need even have to invent new traumas to inflict – in order to satisfy everyone, everywhere, that the pain was spread deep and wide enough…

None of us will love it, but we must recognize that the President (and the leaders in Congress that know our current path is unsustainable) views a solution as the best legacy possible – especially when viewed through the lens of history – in 2050.

In the end, we will likely see a GRAND Bargain (much larger than any previously talked about – at least publicly) because the key players understand things have changed: Obama and Boehner are now playing to history, and McConnell is playing for his political life.

We must be disciplined in the coming storm to be honest with ourselves and our elected leaders about what we NEED, what we WANT, and the difference between.

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