The absence of leadership in standing up to Grover Norquist makes compromise very difficult. There were glimmers of hope recently that some Republicans had gotten the message from the last election when people like Senator Saxby Chambliss came forward and said he put his oath of office ahead of his pledge to Grover Norquist.
Shortly after, Senator Chambliss got a call from Grover Norquist where Grover stated his disagreement with the Senator’s statement, thus wielding undue influence and making compromise much more difficult.
The GOP fiscal cliff proposal is another page right out of the Grover Gospel. Their plan calls for $800 billion in new revenue by wiping out tax loopholes and deductions while seeking additional cuts beyond those President Obama has already signed into law. Never mind that every independent source that has looked at this notes you can’t raise enough revenue from deductions to get us where we need to be without hurting the middle class. Perhaps that’s why the GOP plan is silent on which deductions they want to eliminate. Americans can’t trust the GOP won’t push to eliminate deductions impacting the middle class like the home mortgage deduction or earned income tax credits.
The most logical place to find this revenue and the approach favored by a majority of Americans is letting the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent of Americans expire, essentially taking the tax rates for those Americans back to where they were during the Clinton era.
Doing so would be a sin against the Grover Gospel so here we are again - Grover Norquist gets a seat at the table and the millions of Americans in support of the President and Democrat’s position are held hostage.
The GOP gave their best efforts in trying to make President Obama a one-term President but November’s election showed all of us in Washington that the American people have a different vision in mind. They want us to work together, meet in the middle and find a sensible approach to solving the fiscal cliff crisis. The American people favor a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will not undermine the fragile economic recovery that is already underway or gut the social safety net in favor of preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
I remain optimistic a deal avoiding the fiscal cliff can and will be reached. Americans will likely see a two-step process emerge in the coming weeks where we avoid middle class tax increases this year and take a look at some of the long term drivers of our deficits next year. Democrats have shown they are ready to find savings within current entitlements so that we can deal with our deficits responsibly and not undermine the social guarantee Americans have relied on for generations.
Compromise is possible even in the toughest and most divisive political environments if leaders are willing to step up to the plate and lead.
Speaker Boehner could have great success working across the aisle with President Obama to meet our current fiscal challenges – but the GOP will have to start leading on these issues and loosen Grover Norquist’s grip on their caucus.
Bass represents the 33rd Congressional District, which includes Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Culver City and was the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly. She is a member of the House Budget Committee and serves as the founder and a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.