From the start it was hard to imagine that if Democrats and Republicans couldn’t reach an agreement on the budget crisis while discussing the public debt a few months ago, they could reach one now.
Out of the stagnation at the time, a bipartisan legislative super committee was born with the mission of coming up with $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. Failing an agreement, a series of budget cuts will automatically take effect in 2013, with a major impact on both social services and the defense sector.
The disagreement between Republicans and Democrats remains basically the same: how to resolve the deficit and who should bear the brunt of doing so.
Republicans think the red ink can be erased with cuts in federal spending, while also continuing to cut taxes. Democrats believe the wealthiest Americans, who benefited from the economic boom, should contribute a little more in taxes.
The debate on tax hikes versus budget cuts is an ideological one that will eventually be decided by voters next year. The contrast between the vision and proposals of Republicans and Democrats could not be sharper or more diametrically opposed.
Even so, regardless of the outcome, Democrats and Republicans will have to continue negotiating because that is the way for a divided government to respond to voters’ concerns.
It is a shame that is not happening today.
The intransigence that blocked an agreement a few months ago seems to remain unchanged. The desire of most Americans, to combine tax increases with spending cuts, remains completely ignored by the Republican majority in the House.
November 23-the deadline for an agreement-is fast approaching, bearing that familiar smell of frustration.