Congress may have avoided certain disaster on Tuesday, but the plan that was passed does little to get the country back to a functional system of budgeting that doesn't involve chronic deficits. So what would that take? Republicans will have to recognize that raising taxes on high-income earners is a necessity. Democrats will need to agree to budget cuts and entitlement savings.
That may sound impossible, but recent history demonstrates it isn't. In California, just four years ago, despite fervent partisanship the equal of that in Washington today, the Legislature made just such compromises.
In 2009, months after the Wall Street collapse, California's budget deficit had ballooned to $42 billion, or nearly half the overall state budget. There was no amount of cutting that could cover such a deficit, nor could state residents shoulder the kind of huge tax increases it would take to eliminate the red ink with more revenue alone. Yet Republicans and Democrats were adamantly committed to their principles of not raising taxes and not cutting social services, respectively. It appeared to be a deadlock, and the state seemed to be heading toward disaster.
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