Here we sit, somewhere near a fiscal cliff, or curb, I suppose it depends on where you sit in relation to the edge. Who actually cares about what, and who is just leveraging one component to get something done with another, hostage taking, the whole mirror dodge drill. I think the only thing the two Americas and their creditors agree on, is that it has to stop.
After the rusty iron rococo cartouche
What it seems like is tit-for-tat or a pensioner's dilemma game. It feels like that because no one seems really invested in the outcomes, and holding the players accountable is a long arduous process.
Here is what I float as a way of herding the cats:
Take the leadership of each party and each committee, have them reduce their rhetoric to a position on each component of the fiscal cliff; entitlements, debt ceiling, Bush tax rate expiration, other spending cuts, you don't want too many line items or positions but you don't want too few. You make an effort to match each side's list in a committee. Say the Democratic Party says no cuts to entitlements, and Boehner's boys say Ryan Plan. Then you give leadership the chance to counter other proposed items from the other side or negotiate them into an already existing line-item.
Ultimately you come up with a list of issues that represent each side and give the other side a chance to counter. I admit some common sense and compromise is necessary to fashion such a simple ballot so the idea is unworkable. Yet I move on to the fun part.
It's all there. One position from each leadership about what ultimately will shape the deal. Now, however many issues you come up with, you multiply that by a number greater than 2. I am sure if this were a real idea, mathematicians, stat geeks, Nate Silver, and Political Science theorists on advanced voting systems could come up with a multiplier.
Now you hand each representative a ballot and a number of votes to allot according to their priorities. The fun part is the ballots are public and transparent and over time give a fairly easy to understand statistical representation of what your congressperson is all about.
So if the GOP want to save tax cuts for the rich, and want it known they are pro job creator, they can load up, and blow off entitlements. Deficit hawks can load up too. But that is all they get out of the deal.
Careful, career oriented representatives will learn you can bring the same priorities to every fight.