POLITICS
04/11/2013 04:44 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

Passing The 'Grand Bargain' Voters Don't Care About Will Restore Confidence In Government, Apparently

Time Swampland contributor Joe Klein -- who is confident that Congress will agree to a "grand bargain" -- says that people like me who contend that voters don't place a high priority on a grand deficit deal are correct but we need to pass a grand deficit deal anyway because reasons, shut up:

There are those on the left who will object that the deficit issue is overblown and not even a priority among voters. They are right. But we have reached the point where some sort of deal is necessary to restore the public’s, the business community’s and the world’s faith that the U.S. government can, occasionally, take significant action. I predict—tepidly, with no great confidence—that the Congress will finally decide it is time to act.

There is this thing called the "massive unemployment crisis" that needs to be addressed someday and I daresay Americans would be totally impressed with Congress if they gave up the deficit hysteria and attempted to address it instead. The good news there is that full employment would unleash history's greatest deficit reduction engine, so it's a two-fer. But if we really need Congress to take action and restore our faith in the notion that they aren't a bunch of idiot-sticks, we could take baby steps. Say ... pass a law that improved background checks for gun purchasers? This is something that nine in 10 Americans support, but congressional dysfunction has us on tenterhooks, wondering if they'll pull off enacting the most publicly supported policy that they'll have the privilege of considering all year.

It would also be pretty impressive of Congress to get a comprehensive immigration reform deal over the goal line. It's a heavier lift in terms of overwhelming public support, sure. But it would probably go further to suggest that lawmakers are capable of taking "significant action" than a deal that will further immiserate Americans with painful cuts to earned benefit programs (like chained CPI) at a time when everyone's still struggling to get by. Why anyone thinks this would restore the public trust is beyond me. Pundits really need to get out more.

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