fresh voices from the front lines of change







Just a reminder here that the Grand Bargain was not conceived as a “deal” between the Republicans and Democrats to cut the “entitlements” in exchange for some “revenue.” That’s the “Balanced Approach” that was set forth by the President in the 2012 campaign.

The Grand Bargain is an agreement between the government and the American People. This is Obama’s vision of a Grand Bargain as told by E.J. Dionne back in January of 2009 before the president was inaugurated:

To listen to Obama and his budget director Peter Orszag is to hear a tale of long-term fiscal woe. The government may have to spend and cut taxes in a big way now, but in the long run, the federal budget is unsustainable.

That’s where sacrifice kicks in. There will be signs of it in Obama’s first budget, in his efforts to contain health-care costs and, down the road, in his call for entitlement reform and limits on carbon emissions. His camp is selling the idea that if he wants authority for new initiatives and new spending, Obama will have to prove his willingness to cut some programs and reform others.

The “grand bargain” they are talking about is a mix and match of boldness and prudence. It involves expansive government where necessary, balanced by tough management, unpopular cuts — and, yes, eventually some tax increases. Everyone, they say, will have to give up something.

The “bargain”  was about a restructuring of government in which Americans would have to “sacrifice” because “the federal budget is unsustainable.” But once that gets done we would get to have some neat new (cheaper) modern stuff because everyone will know the government is living within its means.

Again, this “bargain” was not about a negotiation with Republicans. It has morphed into that in the last couple of years due to the White House requiring some kind of revenues or loophole closing (or something) in return for “entitlement” cuts in various budget negotiations. But that’s not the basis of this vision and never has been.

So, when Paul Ryan says the Grand Bargain is off the table because he won’t agree to tax increases, and Patty Murray says she won’t budge unless we get some loopholes closed in the tax code, it’s important to keep in mind that the Grand Bargain originally envisioned by Peter Orszag and the president way back when is still very much in play.

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