I have a column out arguing that the quest for a grand bargain is impossible and it hurts America. It hurts America because in order to “force” members of congress to reach a deal, Grand Bargaineers keep trying to create these crisis points—debt ceiling, fiscal cliff, etc.—at which a no deal scenario will be so terrible that members of congress have no choice but to reach a bipartisan agreement on long-term fiscal policy.
Here on the blog I also have a modest proposal. As an alternative to simply going away and shutting up, grand bargaineers could change their tactics. Instead of coming up with schemes to hurt the American people if no grand bargain is reached, come up with a scheme to hurt the politicians in question. For example, John Boehner and Barack Obama could agree to simply wipe the entire fiscal cliff off the table and replace it with a different incentive for deficit reduction. They’d have 12 months—up until December 1, 2013—to reach an agreement on $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction, or else Pete Peterson gets to kick them both in the balls. Both men are getting the nut shot no matter what happens, but at his discretion Peterson also gets to decide which leader was the more uncompromising of the two and slap him in the face as well. In order to make sure that any deal they do reach has a good chance of passing congress, both Boehner and Obama will be equipped with actual whips and any co-partisan who doesn’t sign onto an agreement will get a lash.