Compromise has become not only impossible within Congress, but also a very bad word. To admit that a point of view held by the other party should potentially be upheld as policy is nearing the highest form of heresy within the walls of Congress.
So when a budget deal needed to be made so that the country would not be forced to endure yet another government shutdown, each party sent important members to attempt to craft a compromise.
House Republicans sent their highest profile budget all-star, Rep. Paul Ryan. And even though the task set before him and his Democratic colleagues was difficult, they found a way to arrive at a budget deal that both parties could say represented some of what they wanted.
However, even though it took weeks, Ryan is finding that crafting the compromise was the easy part. Now, Ryan must deal with his own party, including high profile Tea Party members that have already announced that the deal will do more harm than good.
Sen. Ted Cruz came out against the deal almost immediately after it was announced, saying that it rolled back spending reductions.
While Sen. Cruz was likely grandstanding to augment his Tea Party street cred, he’s an example of the problems Ryan and other GOP leaders are going to run into in trying to get anything done under a flag of bipartisanship.
And even though arch-conservative Republicans may be upset and vote against this deal, this kind of imperfect compromise can be a great boon to the overall GOP when facing Democrats in general elections.
Tea Party Republicans seem to enjoy grandstanding on issues that will help them win big in conservative primaries. But the concept of how to win a general election and possibly appealing to a voter that happens to think that not every single idea proposed by a Democrat is heretical evil, is simply foreign to them.
This budget deal can give GOP leaders a way to wrest the alpha dog status within their own party back from Tea Party members. They can use this deal as a way to boost the overall standing of Republicans among independent and general election voters who actually like to see progress and compromise every once in awhile.
Ryan and House Speaker Boehner would be wise to shepherd this deal through even though some Republicans may need to hold their noses while they vote yes. The yes votes shouldn’t just come based on the merits of the bill, but it is important to back a compromise crafted by one of their all-stars.
If Rep. Paul Ryan can’t be trusted with a budget deal, then frankly, the GOP can trust no one and can really only govern if they hold super majorities in both the Senate and the House. At some point the GOP needs to decide that they can trust one of their own to make a deal. That is the essence of politics. If deals become verboten, then can any substantial policies be created?
Ryan and Boehner will hear a loud chorus of belly aching on this deal. And not all of the complaints will be misplaced. But the right move for Republicans will be to still move forward with the plan. If Republicans want to attain greater influence, they need to show they can govern without an absolute majority. While imperfect, passing this budget deal will help show that the GOP is interested in actually governing.
Let’s face it, that’s not a stance they have exhibited with wild abandon lately.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.