Times Record: Let’s make a deal (Dec. 31, 2012)

In creating a wish list for 2013, one concept reigns over all: compromise.

It’s a phenomenon we are not used to in America, and which has fallen into ever shorter supply with the polarization of our nation’s politics. But one way or the other, compromise happens — as it must. No one ever gets everything they want, and outside forces eventually intrude, rudely, wherever intransigence, greed, selfishness, short-sightedness or inertia hold sway over civil debate.

Nature loves equality, is what the old-timers used to say. Wherever a tree is loaded with fruit, the limbs soon sag and break, creating temporary loss but a more healthy future. When a slope is overloaded with snow, an avalanche will break free, causing damage (if it is not first blown up with the deliberate and tactful use of explosives).

These days, we are seeing a less tactful use of explosives play out in the debate over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” It will stop.

If you recall, the scurrilous debate this summer about whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling — and the affiliated debate on the size and scope of U.S. debt — nearly sent our economy back into recession on its own, with ratings agencies interpreting the corrosive tone — not even the lack of results — as justifying a newly negative outlook on the United States.

In other words, results matter less than process, at this point. Congress, with its “If I don’t get everything, you don’t get anything” mantra, needs to get that through its marble dome.

If Republicans — who are straining to protect the wealthiest from a tax increase of even a single penny, while others less fortunate would have to take up the slack — don’t understand this, they will, when taxes go up for everyone and spending on the military — including, potentially, projects at Bath Iron Works — automatically disappears on Wednesday.

That’s the deal they agreed to this summer, when they couldn’t agree on anything.

That’s the cost of uncompromising debate.

It’s time to break bread on our fiscal problems — and more. Half a loaf is better than none. And, dear Republicans, Americans are hungry for compromise.


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