Bipartisan Compromise Is What's Needed

As Congress heads toward another partisan showdown over the fiscal cliff, it is important to remember that there are plans that have received bipartisan support from current and former members of Congress and experts from both political parties. Just check out CRFB's comparison grid of fiscal plans. The plan put forward by Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles, for instance, was supported by a bipartisan supermajority of 11 out of the 18 Commission members, including four current and two former members of Congress, divided evenly between the parties. The Simpson-Bowles plan continues to stand as evidence that elected officials can reach a principled compromise on a serious plan to reduce the deficit.

A recent blog suggested that Republicans who expressed support for Simpson-Bowles must not know what is in it because the plan includes increases in revenues and reductions in defense -- and many Republicans have been very vocal on how harmful the fiscal cliff would be, which would abruptly raise taxes and cut defense. What such analyses ignore is that developing a deficit reduction plan is not simply a matter of how much revenue increases and spending cuts are achieved, but how and when they are done. It is possible to have reservations about certain policies in isolation, while still supporting a comprehensive deficit reduction package that did so in a smart and careful manner.

That's what compromises are all about. People can agree to ideas that they don't necessarily like in exchange for policies they do like and for solving a problem. Anything that truly addresses our debt challenges will have to be bipartisan, and that's the middle ground that many plans have attempted to deliver on.