Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Avoiding the Tough Choices

RealClearPolitics has an interesting piece by Robert Samuelson: "Seven Tough Choices We Will Not Make". It's a seven point plan to combat the budget deficit and dependence on foreign oil. It would probably take a crisis to seriously discuss most of his proposals. although several are nowhere near as simple as they sound (doubling the price of gas, for example, would most hurt the people who can't afford more efficient cars). But it's an interesting read.

The conclusion:

The fact that something like this won't soon be proposed -- let alone passed -- speaks volumes about our politics... There is little sense of common interests and shared obligations. Politicians resort to symbolic acts that seem more meaningful than they actually are: the minimum wage, for instance.

What results is a politically expedient world of make-believe that takes many sensible compromises off the table. Drilling in ANWR, for example, wouldn't ravage the environment. But for many Democrats, it's a cause celebre. Voting to open ANWR would be politically unpardonable. Similarly, some tax increases wouldn't destroy the economy; it has operated satisfactorily at higher levels of taxation. But for many Republicans, voting for any tax increase would also be a political death sentence. We are condemned to rituals that usually get us nowhere.

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