THE BLOG

Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way

02/17/2015 05:38 pm ET | Updated Mar 30, 2015

Obama summed up one part of his recent rave SOTU saying:

"I know there's bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay ..... As Americans, we don't mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too."

Our Red friends, despite both their intransigence and their simple embrace of less government as the solution to all modern problems, with very few exceptions agree with Obama and his Blue friends about the substance of improving education, immigration, health issues, infrastructure and most of the other crucially important topics Obama touched on.

Somehow, however, they seem to believe that left alone market forces magically can produce the needed changes in all those subjects. When asked 'how' that can happen, they rarely have any explanation without some kinds of nudges and leadership from government.

Yes, there will always be priority differences when it comes to dividing the pie. And, of course, few will get just what they want.

When reds and blues bicker endlessly, particularly about economic choices and the powerful current evidence from recent past events, everyone loses beginning with citizens in need and politicians who want it both ways -- for example better job training with no more costs.

Another issue reds and blues basically agree on is the need for less counterproductive red tape.

A snowball of regulation started in about 1905 and has been gathering size and speed ever since. The task of balancing competing interests in a complex modern society has become bigger and more complicated as society passes over a narrow, dangerously steep path into the changed new 21st century world.

If the assumptions just referred to are anywhere nearly correct -- and they are! -- then it suggests that the first thing the reds and blues need to do is agree on what they agree on in substance BEFORE addressing the issues of costs and priorities.

Where there is a clear difference of view on substance, those issues should be put in a different pile for further debate.

At least then the time and energy of the debate can be focused on the costs and how to allocate, obtain and prioritize them.

At that point the will to address the substance is established and the public can then see and decide if enough will has been brought to bear to satisfy what the public hoped to see achieved.

That leaves regulatory reform as a remaining obstacle. One of today's bigger problems is that regulatory structures are created to deal with each succeeding regulatory need. The bureaucrats who staff those structures are focused on whatever their mandate is. The jerseys on their backs may say 'banking' but they also indicate 'government' [or the public interest] but those people see themselves as carrying the broad public interest even though their legal mandate is much more narrowly defined.

We need to introduce into all regulatory processes an advocate of 'the broad public interest' in somewhat the same way that newspapers have invented editors at large to keep in mind the broad public interest in fair and balanced comment and reporting.

Obama laid out a grand agenda of substantive needs ahead. He wisely suggested that the politicians narrow the focus of their differences on costs. And, has on other occasions aligned himself with regulatory reform.

The time is ripe for both parties to heed his wisdom. The reds, if they have serious hopes for 2016, need to be seen as addressing the peoples' needs. The blues can protect their 2016 candidate by pushing forward the Obama agenda of doing what all citizens need and want.