Even on a see-saw, balance is not much fun.
The balanced budget was sucky when Al Gore touted it in the nineteen-nineties. And, when the accounts of the United States were finally unbalanced by an excess of revenues, many collected as a consequence of "welfare reform" and other "full employment" strategies to have people getting paid and paying into the federal coffers, as a result of doing work (like managing a household) that they'd previously done for free, it turned out, as we now know from the statistics, that the vast majority of the people are no better off than they were in the prior or subsequent decade. Balance does not lead to an improved standard of living. Nor does it rebuild out crumbling infra-structure.
Now President Barack Obama is arguing that if we just balance more revenues from rich people with fewer services for the poor everyone's welfare will be improved. All we need is for Congress to strike a compromise.
The history of the United States is replete with compromises struck to overcome the obstructions of some representatives at the behest of the material interests of an ownership class. In the very beginning, there was the so-called Three-Fifths Compromise, which incorporated slavery into the law of the land, in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.Note that the reference here is to Taxes being apportioned -- i.e. passed out -- not collected. Which makes sense, since, as the issuer of currency, the federal Treasury first has to pass dollars out for them to be able to be returned (recycled) as revenue.
The next famous (or infamous) compromise was, of course, the Missouri Compromise, about which Wikipedia tells us:
To balance the number of "slave states" and "free states," the northern region of what was then Massachusetts was admitted into the United States as a free state to become Maine. Prior to the agreement, the House of Representatives had refused to accept this compromise, and a conference committee was appointed.Same old, same old. What should be noted that it is one thing to compromise one's own interests; it is another to compromise away someone else's freedom, especially in the name of balance. To compromise someone else's freedoms and human rights is abusive. But, as noted above, we've got a long history of that. When MLK Jr. spoke of the arc of the moral universe bending "towards justice," it was clear we aren't there yet. Indeed, both DADT and DOMA are evidence of backwards steps.
Barack Obama wants to move forward. So why is he promoting compromise? As the chief executive, he doesn't really have much choice. The Congress has all the cards or, in this instance, all the dollars and the Congress is persisting in the pretense that revenue has to be collected first, before it can be spent. It is, metaphorically speaking, putting the cart before the horse. But, there is purpose in this apparent madness. While the Congress has traditionally focused on doling out the nation's resources and assets for the exclusive use by favored populations (miners, drillers, trappers, fishermen, etc.), as these resources have become less abundant and citizens insist on preservation, the wealth that Congress itself creates (dollars) has become increasingly attractive as an instrument or tool for rewarding some and punishing others.
As a result, we have this peculiar anomaly of dollars being virtually unlimited in their creation, but being artificially restricted or rationed by a Congress that simply doesn't want to be bothered providing for the general welfare of a populace that's almost certain not to appreciate their efforts. Can the President afford to antagonize them further? Probably not. Especially since the task is complicated by the fact that the Congressional myth of a hands-off body with no responsibilities has been such a long time in the making. After all, the Federal Reserve has ostensibly been tasked with managing the currency for almost a hundred years.
However, aside from "balance" being a sucky concept as regards the budget (a plan) or the national accounts or, as President Obama proposes, between revenues from one class and sacrifice from another, calling on the Congress for a compromise strikes me as a non-starter because the intransigence grows out of a lust for power. Depriving citizens of the necessities of life is not a happenstance; neither is interfering with a woman's bodily integrity, nor the subversion of the obligations of citizenship (voting, serving on juries, holding office, petitioning legislation and enforcing the laws). After all, the only entities directly affected by the civil and consumer rights revolutions are scofflaw lawmakers sitting in legislatures and their henchmen in the financial sector. Money and the law, together, have proved a potent pair to maintain the traditional hierarchies.
It's an abusive system. I'm not sure the President understands that when authority stands silent in the face of abuse, it becomes complicit. Does he recognize the sequester as just another variant of the rationing the Congress has been imposing for decades? Has it occurred to him that rationing promotes hoarding and that the hoarding by the rich is just an inevitable response to the rationing, regardless of whether it's sugar or nails or dollars that are being rationed? Has it occurred to anyone that rationing an entity of which there is an infinite supply has even more negative consequences than rationing a naturally scarce resource, just because that the cause is arbitrary and malevolent can't be ignored? Congress rationing dollars raises the inevitable question, "what's next?"
It's not wise to compromise with deprivators who are never satisfied.