Compromise is not a word that a lot of people on Capitol Hill understand these days. That's particularly true when those who are entrenched in their own view of things can't climb out of those trenches without a 12-foot ladder.
The so-called "Super Committee" -- aka the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction -- has been at work for the last three months, trying to"fix" our economic woes. Remember when we were staring into the economic abyss back in August, and Congress finally agreed to raise the debt ceiling so America wouldn't default on its financial obligations and tank the global economy? I know it was the end of summer vacation, but somehow a "Super Committee" was formed that was supposed to seriously, and in a bipartisan way, develop a plan to put the economy on a better road.
I'll stop for a minute while you finish laughing or cleaning up the Diet Coke you just spit all over your keyboard.
So here we are, after both sides cried "uncle" on this effort, with automatic spending cuts ready to go into effect that will begin the process of slashing $1.2 trillion dollars from the budget -- cuts that neither side wants.
Sometime in the last couple of decades of super-partisan politics, we've all lost the ability to compromise. But I know some women who understand what that word means. So for lack of any better suggestions coming from Capitol Hill, some of my friends weighed in on the question:
If I had been on the Super Committee, I would have ... And their answers?
-- Voted for Congress to work for minimum wage.
-- Probably had a screaming hissy fit wherein I told Republicans that supply-side economics is a myth and to stop pretending it's a policy that works.
-- Begun with a history book set alongside all that economic theory.
-- Challenged the validity of said Super Committee.
-- Worn a cape.
-- Lit the Bat Signal.
--Told the rest of the committee to stop acting like spoiled children having a sibling spat and start acting like adults who've been charged with the very serious job of planning an entire nation's financial future. Taken the rest of the committee on a field trip to visit some of the 1 in 5 Americans now on food stamps who are waiting on Congress to offer some solution. Locked the rest of the committee together in a small room with a few pens, some papers and an audiobook of A Christmas Carol on endless loop and told them they can't come out until they have a solution.
-- Looked more at Senator Toomey's plan. I think it was ridiculous to dismiss it out of hand. I think Grover Norquist has paralyzed the GOP with his silly pledge and I think the Dems need to get beyond just saying no to extending existing cuts. Bottom line: compromise. And I still would have angled for a cape.
-- Lined up prominent conservative leaders of faith to say, "It's OK to raise taxes on the wealthy if it fulfills our obligation to look out for the poor." Seriously, does anyone know what faith leaders' positions are on this? I haven't seen much about it.
-- Subpoenaed "Cookie Monster" from OccupySesameStreet to explain the economic crisis in simple terms, since clearly the more complex explanations are over their heads.
--Solved the F'ing problem.
-- Used more jazz hands.
-- Used more cowbell.
-- Wished that Sarah Palin had announced her presidential candidacy because I really believe she would have locked them in a room with only peanut butter sandwiches and cold cereal and said, "You solve the problem and figure out a way to compromise or you're not coming out for Thanksgiving or Christmas and then you can figure out how to answer to your wives, husbands, children and grandchildren. Now grow up boys and girls!!"
Those responses all came within just a few minutes of asking the question. Even with some humor, it doesn't take much to sense the level of frustration people on both sides of this debate are feeling.
On a slightly more serious note, Kelly Phillips Erb points out at her Tax Girl blog at Forbes that all this hand-wringing over the Super Committee deadline is just an act. Yes, Congress instituted a deadline, but they can change it. And I'm willing to bet my slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie that's exactly what's going to happen in the next 24 hours.
As for Grover Norquist, he'd better be looking for a secure, undisclosed location for his Thanksgiving celebration. He may think he's got everybody right where he wants them, but we're at the point where his Republican "allies" are going to turn on him. They may have signed his no new taxes "oath," but in the end, when that bit of political theatrics stops working with voters who can't even afford to buy a turkey this holiday season, those oath-takers will be blaming him and making him the fall guy for the GOP's role in this mess.
Joanne Bamberger is a political columnist, analyst and author of the Amazon best-seller, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press, 2011). Joanne is the founder of the site PunditMom and editor-in-chief of the just-launched women's commentary site, The Broad Side: Real Women. Real Opinions. Real Politics.
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