As you know, Official Politics as played in DC and represented by Big Media is pretty much divorced from the real world.
Got fiscal problems that come from lack of Jobs and people not having cash? Put forth legislation and programs about anything but Job-creation, and make sure people have less cash. (You are allowed to talk about Jobs if you are running for office, however.)
Want to protect the nation from its enemies? Create more enemies every year by sending hundreds of thousands of people thousands of miles away to terrify and kill people in their own land. If you can't afford to send troops to anyone of a dozen or more nations, send sky killer robots. Just make more enemies whatever it takes.
Got a broken Economy which got that way because of widespread fraud and corruption? Help those frauds and corrupts make their disastrous books look better with massive cheap loans and buying their garbage products at face value. It's vital that they be allowed to conduct business pretty much as they did in the way that caused the crash in the first place. (Whatever you do, don't press criminal charges on the criminals, as that will decrease their bonuses for destroying the Economy, which in turn will likely hurt Campaign Contributions.)
Got a War on Drugs which sees the price of drugs grow cheaper and the usage grow wider after decades of War? Okay, put 300,000 or so of minorities and poor people in jail for having miniscule amounts of the stuff; make sure the people who actually help drug-lords to use their ill-gotten gains (Bankers again) give over a percentage of their take to the government in fines. Again, no serious charges, likely for the same reason. (Or is it they have interesting stories to tell if necessary? e.g., Nixon, Richard; and BCCI for starters)
And here's a real knee-slapper for you: We live in a Democracy. (And, yes, for the strict hobbyist out there we are a Representative Republic, or a Democratic Republic, depending on what you like.)
Nonetheless, whenever it's time to have a war, everyone in Public Life agrees we are a Democracy. Even though what the people want in the democracy seldom gets made law.
What's funny about this, and so much more, is... oh wait. Did I say funny? Well, yeah sort of funny if you are morbid or just beaten down so low you can only laugh. What's sad about this...
is it's all the result of what so many take to be "pragmatism." When in fact, if a real solution to a problem is at hand -- something which would actually work, something which could actually be done -- it is immediately said by pragmatists that "it's not politically viable" and it's thrown out, usually without even a hearing. This kind of, ahem, analysis has more of Realpolitician-Lick than Realpolitik about it.
Consider, for merely the one example of the Public Option and Health Insurance politics. The problem and the complaint: medical care costs too much; the care actually delivered is crap when compared to our peers (and a few poor countries). Nope, not possible, can't get there from here. (Health Care Quality was never even raised for a day, btw.)
Well, maybe at that time, with that Congress. But if it had been insisted upon (along with massive job creation)... likely the new Congress following the next elections. Or the one after that, but surely it would happen sooner than it will from today.
And here we come to the root misapprehension so many "pragmatists" have: There are no, and can be no, pragmatic solutions in a fictive world.
What's "fictive" about Official Politics, and as shown on TV? These:
The reason that "Many Good Jobs Now" isn't the main issue for either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is not because deficits are killing us so we can't spend the money (and they all know this-- and mind you, insanely high majorities of voters have been desiring this as a top concern for years now, even before the Crash),...
...is because both Parties accept at root but for different reasons, that you want your American labor to come as cheap as you can possibly get it. To compete in the global marketplace, don'cha know? And so businesses can be profitable. And politicians who help businesses get profitable get rewarded.
(Oh, did I just let slip some Real Realpolitik? Didn't mean to make anyone faint.)
The alert person can go through my (very partial) listing of Cognitive DC Dissonance above, and work out pretty quickly that, for all the Sound and Fury of the two party struggle, pretty much pleasing the guys with Money above all else is the shared world-view of both Parties. (There are exceptions, for instance among the Socialists in Congress, but certainly not among leaderships).
And now we've come to the Grand Bargain the President is trying to achieve. Although all sense, reason, experience, and arithmetic shows that Social Security is not a contributor to the deficit and won't be for anywhere from 20 to 78 years (depending on if we get out of the current Great Depression [shoot, we're not supposed to notice that, sorry everyone -- jp]) it is being offered to the Republicans as a bargaining chip.
As if it were a true thing, or maybe since we are negotiating with liars it would disturb comity if we said "stop with this lie."
That Medicare also needs to be cut because of perpetually rising costs (including the pharmaceutical prices which are held high by some sort of magic it seems)..
But I already said Public Option. Medicare expansion if you prefer.
Now, our pragmatists-with-a fictive-base, who mistake what we see about Official Politics for the sum and substance of actual-politics-as-practice, argue -- and quite plausibly once you buy the assumptions that DC is somehow connected to reality [extraordinary claims, baby, extraordinary claims! -- jp]
that the President wants to solve this urgent deficit problem (which doesn't exist as it's not a cause but a result of no jobs/no cashflow)
and he is demonstrating to the Republicans "I'll hurt my base, and that gives you permission to hurt your base, so let's both do this in the interests of the nation."
Well, there's a touch of Beltway Myopia. For two reasons: one, here on Real Earth the joyous thrill of a harmonious working together of both parties will be paid for by the immiseration, and job loss, of tens of millions, maybe hundreds in the long term. And surely, surely, surely, the Economy will suffer if more cash is taken out of it. No one disputes that, and if they do, send them to Southern Europe for a few months. [nb: if someone will finance me, I will make the sacrifice and go to Southern Europe for a few months, btw -- jp]
Second reason: the Republicans want a malfunctioning government. With the hundreds of thousands of spies and devices and wire taps and scanners of the internet you'd think somebody in charge would have noticed by now that they've been saying this for decades!!!
Now, the DC-infected type of pragmatist will say "Aha! And there's the beauty of the plan. We'll get to paint them as truculent, divisive, obstructive... etc. And thus get an electoral advantage with the voters. Brilliant!"
That's true we will get to say that. And the Republicans will get to say "we refused a deal and saved your Social Security and Medicare from cuts." And they'll have video clips of the President offering them, saying they need reform, and so on.
So which do you think, after 20 years of Republicans being plainly obstructionist etc, will swing more voters, and in which direction?
I was told a Yiddish expression I might transcribe wrongly here: yiddisha kupf. It's more subtle in meaning than our "he's so smart he's stupid." It refers to someone so absorbed in playing the angles that he misses the key action. And that's what our DC-style pragmatism is entirely about.
Want an electoral advantage? Really? Promise, and mean to carry out, those things that 60, 70, 80% of the voters say they want done. There's your Real-World pragmatism.
So now, about the title.
Fie upon this Bargain for a measly Grand. Please, just stop with this.
Play politics the way it's really played in our Senate and House. Offer each member a flat $20 million dollars, one payment, no taxes, to take the steps the American people want taken on easily a dozen issues.
Take the steps necessary to actually solve the nation's problems, and strengthen the Economy, and improve the lot of the voters. "$20 million free and clear; drop the bullshit."
$20 million x 535 is just under $12 billion. Why you can hardly wipe out a village these days for that kind of chump change.
Okay, I know, I know, I know. "Jim P, why that's an absurd proposition!"
But these are negotiations. It'll probably take $30 million and a couple of villas to swing the deal, but why not open with a low bid?