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The Heart of the Matter

Yuval Levin explains why compromising over how to deal with the nation’s fiscal crisis is so difficult:

The Democrats want to raise revenue and the Republicans want to reform entitlements. Those goals would seem to be easily reconciled — just do some of each, or even lots of each. But it only seems that way because we don’t often think about why the parties want these things. Simply (and surely somewhat too simply) put, the Democrats want more money so that the entitlement system doesn’t have to be reformed, while the Republicans want to reform the entitlement system so that the government doesn’t have to take more of the country’s money or take up even more of the economy. That means that doing some of each, let alone lots of each, doesn’t give both parties what they want, it gives both parties what they are desperately trying to avoid.

That’s it in a nutshell. And I think the Democrats understand this conundrum better than the Republicans do. Or maybe they are just in a better position right now to proceed based on this understanding.

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