Democrats have been working hard to become the Party of No

Sarah Palin, she of frontrunner status in the early bidding for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, spoke to some group recently about her take on the Federal Reserve Board’s quantitative easing policy. A few days later she apparently clubbed a fish to death on her reality show. I neither read her speech nor saw her show. Although I suspect both have comedic value.

But come on. Sarah Palin telling us about quantitative easing? Her credentials would be? She saw Ben Bernanke’s office, maybe? She may have the intellectual firepower to kill a fish, but does she really expect us to think she understands arcane economic policy?

Ms. Palin’s latest odd behavior is instructive only in that it illustrates why the GOP earned the moniker this year of The Party of No. What else could it be? Any party that takes the half-term governor of Alaska seriously can’t be taken seriously by the rest of us. Could a party whose leading light is but a faint glimmer possibly have any ideas of its own? I don’t think so.

But something strange happened on the way to 2012 last week. While poor Sarah slaughtered halibut and tried to dog-paddle in the deep end of the pool, the Democrats made a play to become the Party of No themselves.

The two parties actually sat down last week and reached a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts. There’s plenty to dislike in the agreement, regardless where one sits on the political spectrum. But the fact remains they struck a deal. They compromised on a significant issue. The GOP abandoned its vow to kill an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and the Democrats said they’d allow the super wealthy to continue to be beneficiaries of the tax cuts.

Or some of them did. As this was being written, some Dems were threatening to jump ship. They were trying to become their own Party of No. “No deal” they were saying to the deal. Many in this group were the same guys and gals who have been blaming the Republicans for nothing ever getting done. It’s the GOP, they said over and over, that has polarized Washington. The Republicans see everything in vivid black and white, and refuse any movement toward gray.

Not last week. It was Democrats, including Colorado’s own Sen. Mark Udall, who saw the darkest of black when they thought about wealthy Americans not having their taxes raised next year. Compromise is one thing when it’s the other side giving up something it cherishes. It’s quite another when you have to give something up yourself.

“With our debt out of control, our troops battling two wars and American families struggling every week in the recession, extending tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires makes no sense,” Udall said.

Let’s give the senator this: Penalizing the wealthy, I suppose, is a debatable issue, although I’ve never understood why we should discourage success. But if the other alternative is to penalize all of us, which is what will happen if a deal isn’t reached, then maybe the Colorado senator and his like-minded colleagues should take up fish-clubbing.

That’s the least of the problems with the deal on the table. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when a much-ballyhooed commission recommended we raise taxes and cut spending in order to do something about our ever-ballooning debt? The deal struck last week does just the opposite. It will add $900 billion to the deficit and lower taxes. It is, quite simply, another stimulus package.

But it’s better than the last one, since this time people get to decide themselves how they want to spend the money. There will be no more big green signs at nearly every public construction project announcing the project was paid for by your ever-helpful federal government.

So get it over it Dems. Adding to the deficit is worrisome, to say the least. But some of us think it’s remarkable that you all sat down at a table and walked away with a compromise. That’s one small step.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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