Guest Post: Compromise, D.C.-Style

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Casey Research

Compromise, D.C.-Style

With a last-minute debt deal reached, I’m reminded of two holy words in Washington: “compromise” and “bipartisanship.” It’s amazing that the political elite have so twisted the English language as to lend virtue to these terms. In Washington, these words hold intrinsic value… similar to how “truth” and “honesty” do outside D.C. Unfortunately for the American public, Washington compromises have been and will continue to be the death knell of the U.S. economy – and particularly the free market.

Rarely does compromise ever benefit the small-government side of the argument. Instead, compromise increases the size of the state step by step. For example, suppose the left wants $2 billion for organic school lunches. Of course, the free-market guys are against this bill; they want $0 dollars in extra spending. So, what’s the compromise? The two meet at $1 billion.

But this only makes one side better off. In a true compromise, each side would get something. In this case, spending grows by $1 billion, and the small-government side gets nothing from the deal. Future spending was simply reduced from $2 billion to $1 billion. The small-government advocates are further away from their goal than they were prior to the deal. In a way, this really isn’t a compromise at all.

One could think of similar examples to prove the point. Suppose someone wanted to put ten drops of arsenic in your food. Does negotiating the person down to five drops improve the situation? No, it doesn’t. That’s exactly how America has been poisoned over time. Sometimes the dosages are smaller, but it’s the same lethal stuff for our long-term fiscal situation.

This happens with regulation as well. Think about the Dodd-Frank Act. The financial industry has been fighting tooth and nail first with Congressmen and now with the government bureaucrats implementing the law to reach a compromise on the particulars of the law. But it’s not a compromise where the financials win: Rather, it’s a battle to lose less. “The struggle to lose less” has become the definition of a Washington compromise.

A real compromise would involve a tradeoff where both parties gain. For example, regulations could be increased on derivatives, with deregulation occurring in other parts of the financial sector. Trust me; there are plenty of harmful regulations on the books. Each party gains something and trades something else. That’s how compromise works in the real world.

But don’t expect to see this happen anytime soon – at least not in regard to the free market. In reality, these tradeoffs do happen. However, it works more like this: “I’ll sign your war spending bill if you sign my local pork stimulus bill.” Sure, that’s a real D.C. compromise – and a third party is the real loser, i.e., the American taxpayer.

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tom a taxpayer's picture

The height of illusionary “compromise” and “bipartisanship” is the debt ceiling deal. Both sides “compromised” on out-year budgets that can not bind future Congresses.

Stuck on Zero's picture

How would you like to hear the aeronatical engineer at Boeing talk about compromises in the strenght of the wing spar?  

How would you like your surgeon to talk about bipartisan cooperation with the bean counters at the hospital?  



hedgeless_horseman's picture



"One could think of similar examples to prove the point. Suppose someone wanted to put ten drops of arsenic in your food. Does negotiating the person down to five drops improve the situation? No, it doesn’t. That’s exactly how America has been poisoned over time. Sometimes the dosages are smaller, but it’s the same lethal stuff for our long-term fiscal situation."

Give credit where credit is due, Mr. Vuk.  As with compromise, small dosages of theft can also be lethal.

"In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."

                                                -Ayn Rand

Billy Bob's picture

Hey. Mr. Stuck

Do you really think for one minute that Boeing Engineers don't talk compromises when making decisions about which material to use, considering cost vs strength? Availability?  Weight?


Do you really think for one minute that surgeons don't comprimise with the hospital bean counters when selecting time, place, methods (robotic vs manual) treatment selections, probability of success vs costs, etc?

All rational people consider options available to them and make a decision.... that is infact the way evey decision is made.  Except for idealoges and believers.  They are convinced their way is the only right way... orther people who would make a different decision are demonic and evil and thoughtless and harmful and and stupid and Communists and probably gay.




Rodent Freikorps's picture

Compromise means you do it the Dems way.

Bipartisanship means you do it the Dems way with one R vote. Usually one of the Maine sisters. Corrupt DIABLO whores that they are.

nmewn's picture

The word compromise is always presented as good and denotes someone who is balanced (these are not the droids you're looking for) but it has always had a negative attribution no one ever speaks in... 

You have compromised yourself!

Oh goody, happy day, (fingers in the ears, eyes closed) lalalalala...look at me, I'm a compromiser walking over a cliff, follow me!!! I can compromise my vote if you give my state a waiver or vote for my earmark.

They are terminally compromised. They have compromised the treasury into bankruptcy.

Fuck compromise.

Milestones's picture

Boy!! Honey Hush now!! This be the Merican way. Damn little nerdy folks.        Milestones

TapperIsTicked's picture

One has to define ones terms. The Taps revised edition lists as:

Comprimise/Bipartisanship v -forced fellatio while being sodomized with two guns to ones head.

Anonymouse's picture

I like your arsenic comparison.  Compromise just encourages extremism. 

That's particularly true when the uninformed say "Well the Democrats say x and the Republicans say y.  I figure the truth is somewhere in the middle".

The farther the extreme position, the more the "rational middle" is moved in your direction.

I believe that's why there are so many extreme organizations on the left.  By taking a crazy position, they may be ridiculed and ignored.

BUT, they allow more "mainstream" leftist groups to appear more reasonable and those positions are more readily accepted.

Slowly, the rational middle is moved leftward and their objectives are more easily achieved.

Maybe I am biased, but I don't see that on the right.  The core of the GOP drifts leftward in hopes of being seen as reasonable and biparitisan.

Again, the left's goals are made easier still by the opposition.

PPagan's picture

<<Maybe I am biased....>>

There's no "maybe" about it.

OK, that's not nice. Sorry. I hear you as sincere, intelligent and concerned. So am I.

I find your description clear and accurate; however, I would reverse "left" and "right". I see the Tea Party and their like as very extreme, and to have forced Obama to move way to the right. I do not see the Progressives as extreme, rather as rational and human.

Now, your response could be to simply dismiss me as an insane fucking creep; I of course would not be convinced.

Strange as it might seem to you, I think Obama has compromised way too much; I agree, "compromise" with extremists is no virtue; since the beginning, Obama has failed to deliver on his promises, because he let himself be bullied by the Tea Party and the Right into compromising the principles he ran on.

W was an example of the opposite; W led his party further to the right, forcing the Democrats to move further right in turn; now what used to be seen an moderate left is seen as extremism. There are no moderate Conservatives left.

So don't bitch, you guys are winning hands down!

I'm not trying to argue or convince here; simply presenting a differing view.


My take on what should be done:

  • means-test Medicare and Social Security, raise age of eligibility
  • stop corruption and waste in the military
  • reverse Bush tax cuts
  • eliminate corporate tax loopholes
  • eliminate provisions exempting members of Congress from regulations and laws binding other citizens
  • eliminate special Congressional health care plan (or make it available to all)
  • stop embroilment in wars other than defensive
  • NO MORE BAILOUTS for bankers or corporations
  • prosecute corporate criminals
  • go to gold standard
  • States should control what affects States only individually (money should not go form State to Government and back again)
Anonymouse's picture

Clearly, we are coming at it from different points of view, but I think you would be surprised on how many points we agree on.

- Medicare / Soc Sec:  Agree on raising age of eligibility.  Not keen on means-test, but not adamantly opposed.  Would prefer to see these combined with gradual phase out of both

- Stop corruption and waste in military:  Absolutely

- Reverse Bush tax cuts:No.  I'd prefer to see a flat tax for all

- Corporate tax loopholes:  Sort of.  I'd prefer corporate taxes to be eliminated altogether.  They distort economic decisions amd are inefficient.  Corporate taxes ultimately are paid by 1) customer, 2) stakeholders, and/or 3) investors.  The tax should be applied at the human level.  The only problem with this I think is how you deal with off-shore investors.  It seems that could be used to evade the personal tax, so I'm not sure, but I think it is the right thing.  This also would have the benefit of reducing (though not eliminating) corporate interest in political lobbying

- Congressional exemptions:  Absolutely agree.  The bar for leaders should be higher than for everyone else, not lower

- Congressional health care:  Half-way agree.  They should have nothing special, but I am against providing it to all, especially when there is a graduated tax

- Defensive wars.  99% agree.  There can be minimal exceptions, but it should only occur rarely, with a very high hurdle, require an declaration of war from Congress (not them simply allowing it to happen), and be fought to win (not to stalemate or for nation-building)

- No bailouts:  Agree, but would expand to no bailouts for anyone

- Prosecute corporate criminals:  Yes, but with the caveat that bad decisions are not criminal acts

- Gold standard: YES!

- States-rights / sovereignty: Absolutely


So despite different views, we are in agreement on the vast majority.  I appreciate too, your ability to respectfully disagree.  All too rare.

StychoKiller's picture

I don't see Obamatron being in favor of anything you think should be done.  Most of those items would be considered "conservative" or "rightist".  Furthermore, I don't recall members of the Tea Party opposing Obamatron on closing GITMO, winding down the Iraq & Afghanistan "wars", etc.  Face it, Obamatron talks a good "leftist" game, then does precisely nothing (excluding the bad joke called Health Care "reform").

Peter Pan's picture

The arsenic metaphor is perfect. If you have jumped out of a plane without a parachute, it makes no difference whether you are falling at a speed of 50 kilomtere an hour or 25 kilometres an hour. The only difference in the end result is the timing.

The USA needs to put some very near term sunset clauses on some incredibly stupid and corrosive policies which affect both the man in the street as well as corporate America.

Don't forget the word compromise contains the word promise. That's right it's just a promise and nothing more.

A Lunatic's picture

"You're either with us or against us." "We must pass TARP or there will be financial Armageddon." "We have to pass this so we can see what's in it."

Please be sure to add your fondest memories of bi-partisan compromise below.

RockyRacoon's picture



All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
Mohandas Gandhi

EvlTheCat's picture

One could think of similar examples to prove the point.

= Circle Jerk Q.E.D


michigan independant's picture

History tells it as it is not opinion's of it. When Christianity adheres to the judicial specifics of the Bible, it produces free market capitalism. On the other hand, when Christianity rejects the judicial specifics of the Bible, it produces socialism or some politically run hybrid "middle way" between capitalism and socialism, where politicians and bureaucrats make the big decisions about how people's wealth will be allocated. Economic growth then slows or is reversed. Always. Get over it, spin any way you want to. Honest weight and scales or collapse, always. Those who sighned the Constituition new this and made provisions for this. Game over or change. I have made many mistakes as any man. This is not one. Money can fail ask Joseph, today ask egypt and kenya ect.... yes its that time for a gut check and voters do reap what they sow. We need a compass and reason will help also.

blindman's picture

consensus lowest common denominator. feeding as
a bacterial organism feeds in a colony of bacteria.
ignoratti style, as usual. i could link the expose
but who give a shit?
fungal matt domain indifference rules.

blindman's picture

but then again all this drivel is just missing the point
that the money system is sour. rotten, not redeemable, tortured
and sick with terminal disease, cancerous, sclerotic and
a dead beat scam living on the memory of fumes. the 1913 scam
is dead. everything that assumes it is viable is also dead to
reality and lives only in the minds of zombies. join the club.

par4's picture

"compromise" "bipartisanship" you better add "free markets" to that list because there is no such animal in this economic system.

franzpick's picture

"I am a man of principle, and my first principle is compromise": Everett Dirksen

snowball777's picture

More 'compromised' than 'compomise' and more 'bipolar' than 'bipartisan'.

The TeaPotDomeExpress have not clue one what they are doing, hell-bent on a return to brachiation, while believing themselves to be 'patriots'; the Rise of the Planet of the Dupes.


FreedomGuy's picture

I work in a heavily regulated industry and compromise is exactly what is listed here in this article. There is another more sinister side to it that Tyler misses, too. It is the protection racket side. If you don't pony up donations you get a regulatory brick through your corporate window. Lefties are so damned naive. They think you can give tens of thousands of pages of regulations and the power that goes with it and not abuse it?

There are wholesale shakedowns of industry. The lobbying everyone decries is part of survival.

Lefties are complete morons and compromising with them is walking to your own destruction.

Cult of Criminality's picture

It is not lobbying,it is bribery."The Corporation" of the United states has even come out and said they need to bribe it is the only way to get the goods. Sad is it not.

 In the District of Criminality it is daily ,normal activity of course.

business as usual,move along nothing to see here.

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