Grand Bargain Is Impossible, Dangerous

Matthew Yglesias on the inanity of the fiscal cliff talks

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 29, 2012 11:49 AM CST

(Newser) – Back during the Bush years, the faction in Congress advocating a "grand bargain" on America's long-term budget deficit was "an amusing curiosity," writes Matthew Yglesias over at Slate. But with the fiscal cliff looming, "they've become actively dangerous." The only way to avoid the cliff—which, essentially, is a massive short-term deficit reduction—is with a long-term deal, and that's not a coincidence. These guys don't want a bargain because they want to avoid the cliff. "They deliberately created the fiscal cliff" to force a grand bargain.

There's just one problem. "The grand bargain is impossible," Yglesias asserts. Why? Because Congress simply can't tie the hands of future congresses, nor should it. "The only grand bargain that would work would be an abolition of democracy," because how the government should spend and raise money is the essence of politics. Congress should focus on today's problems—which deficit reduction won't fix. Instead, we're headed for a fiscal cliff that "will probably be avoided," Iglesias concludes, and "all for an essentially worthless promise to reduce deficits in the future." Click for Yglesias' full column.

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are two of Washington's most prominent grand bargain fans.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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The sensible policy solution is to focus on the illness we have right now, and let decisions about long-term tax hikes and spending cuts be made later, when the patient is healthy. - Matthew Yglesias

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