January 5, 1996 in City

There’s No Room For High Horses Pro Compromise No Politician Has A Monopoly On Wisdom.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A touch of modesty would do wonders for the House Republicans who claim only they know how to produce a balanced budget seven years from now. A recession, or a different Congress, can demolish their plans. The only sure thing is this year’s non-existent budget.

Yet the Republicans seem miraculously sure of themselves, and of their cures for 60 years of democratically established policies. So much so that they touched off a government shutdown rather than make a deal with the devil, also known as Bill Clinton, president of the United States.

Now you do have to admire the naivete required to treat legislating like Holy War.

And you also have to admire some of the Republicans’ goals. Bill Clinton shares quite a few of them. So do many other Americans, including the Spokesman-Review’s editorial board. Reduce the budget deficit. Cut federal bureaucracy and regulation. Trim the tax load to encourage the economy. Make environmental laws reasonable and natural-resource industries sustainable.

But no politicians have such a monopoly on wisdom that they reasonably can achieve so difficult a set of goals, their way, in one year.

The U.S. Constitution designed a government with divided and balanced powers, including Clinton’s veto power, to force compromise and hamstring absolutism. The Constitution also assumes good faith, or at least a desire to please the electorate, on the part of policy makers.

The current standoff results from a failure to meet constitutional expectations, on both sides. Clinton should have engaged Congress sooner in a serious search for common ground. Republicans should have produced bills with a likelihood of enactment. Instead, at the last minute, Congress passed ideological dogma poisoned with blatant inequities and special-interest favors that no reasonable president could accept.

This isn’t statesmanship, it’s partisan showmanship.

It is damaging the Republicans’ credibility. It squandered the momentum the 1994 election gave to their valid goals. The GOP’s yearlong crusade for one-sided compromise, or else, was an exercise in partisan fantasy, doomed from the start. The human suffering it now has caused is real, widespread and unnecessary.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see “Clinton has key to end gridlock”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From Both Sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

For opposing view, see “Clinton has key to end gridlock”

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From Both Sides CREDIT = John Webster/For the editorial board

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