Like President Clinton at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s “fiscal summit” last week, I believe we need to do a better job emphasizing the positive of deficit reduction. Politically, compromise is a lot easier to achieve when both sides see something to gain (mutual benefit) rather than just stuff to lose (mutual “sacrifice”). I tried to make that point in a column that appears in this week’s Christian Science Monitor magazine (now available online here):
“Compromise” on the issue of deficit reduction has become a dirty word in Washington.
Politicians assume that fiscal responsibility is a zero-sum game – that if they agree to any policies that are consistent with the priorities of the other side, they give up their own priorities. If the other side wins, it must mean they have lost. But that’s all wrong.
The best ideas for the most effective ways to reduce the federal budget deficit happen to be win-win ideas, “bipartisan” in that the goals and priorities of bothand Republicans are promoted rather than sacrificed. It’s time we emphasized what both sides (and the rest of us) have to gain from such compromise.
I give four examples of these “win-win” benefits of deficit reduction, that create good things that both political parties like: (1) strengthening our economy; (2) increasing intergenerational equity; (3) reforming the entitlement programs to reduce costs while strengthening the safety net; and (4) reducing tax expenditures to achieve a more efficient and fairer tax system.