Mark Twain famously wrote that "no man's property or liberty is safe while the Legislature is in session." The same could have been said for the Deficit Reduction Super Committee. Now that it has reached an impasse, we can all breathe easier!
There is a fundamental, deep difference between the parties in Washington. Democrats want higher levels of taxes and spending and Republicans want lower levels of each. The gulf between them can only be adjudicated by the electorate at an election. That's the way we do it in a democracy. To split the difference in a spate of legislative deal making is to deprive our people of their right of self-government.
Because we are not Japan, we use our elections to air fundamental policy differences. Because we are not Italy, we come to conclusions and are not always looking to split the difference in fuzzy compromise.
For the last weeks many conservatives have been concerned that our Republican members of the panel would sell us out and go for a tax increase. Some, like Tennessee's Senator Lamar Alexander, urged one. For them to have agreed to a compromise would have been disempowering to the voters. It would have been a sin.
Now the great question looms before us: How large should government be? Should it consume the 41% of our national resources it now does or the 33% it did when Obama took power? Let the debate begin and let the voters decide. And let one or the other party return to Washington in 2013 with control of both Houses and of the White House, determined to enact the will of the voters.
The insiders in Washington wanted a deal because they don't trust the voters. The insiders on Wall Street wanted one because they want predictability. But this decision is not to be made by insiders. It will be made by voters. It is not the triumph of gridlock, but of democracy. The absence of a deal is not a failing of our system, but a manifestation of its most glorious success.
We are still, after all, a democracy.