If the end is compromise and working together, then President Braack Obama and the Republicans in Congress achieved a goal this week in agreeing to extend tax cuts across the board for two years, extend the time for unemployment eligibility, cut payroll taxes for 2011 and agree on an estate tax.
But given the price of this compromise -- a further increase in the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars -- Americans have to wonder if both sides haven't confused the means with the end.
Last week the president seemed to be on the right track. He called for a federal pay freeze, sure to rile millions of Uncle Sam's employees but a moderate, sensible call given our economic circumstances. That freeze was expected to save $60 billion over 10 years.
Of far greater impact was the president's call to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the wealthiest Americans back to pre-2001 levels. That would raise $700 billion over 10 years. The top 3 percent in income would take a hit, but not one to make them miss any meals. The rest of the country would have tax cuts extended, at least until the "jobless recovery" became a working recovery, one that lifted Main Street, where most Americans live, not just Wall Street.
Judging by their comments, the president is frustrated. GOP leaders are satisfied. Democratic leaders are angry. That tells us something about the nature of the compromise.
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