A 2013 Budget Compromise That Everyone Can Live With

Senate Democrats have finally made a concession for which their Republican adversaries have called since Obama's first year in office: they've crafted a budget and have agreed to negotiate meaningfully in order to pass one into law. The very fact that the United States federal government might operate within the confines of a specific budget, in light of the past four years, is significant in and of itself. With both parties seemingly genuine in their will to compromise, the previously elusive concept of controlled spending will likely soon be a reality.

Obviously, the federal budget is incredibly complex with myriad aspects upon which solely Republicans and solely Democrats insist. Necessary to the passage of the inevitably convoluted bill will be a compromise with specific regard to taxes. Entitlement reform will undoubtedly be, as it ought to, the overarching infrastructure of an agreement—it is impossible for Democrats to refute that many of our current programs are irresponsibly wasteful. Yet taxes remain fundamental to the Democrats’ proposal and, Republicans, having already increased taxes this year, are wary to acquiesce to the Senate Democrats’ current plan.

Loopholes in the tax system should be closed, as both sides admit and have included in their respective proposals. Nonetheless, how this increased revenue should be used is a disputed matter, and this is where compromise must ensue.

Paul Ryan’s proposal to simplify the tax code should be adapted, albeit the 10% decrease in maximum corporate taxes (the proposed rate for which is 8.5%) will likely need to be forfeited for a deal. The closing of loopholes will account for the necessary increased revenue to support this new tax system and the remainder of funds should be used, as Democrats have proposed and Republicans will likely embrace, to reduce the deficit. This deal would be revolutionary, particularly in a political climate that has been polluted by gridlock as of late, yet both parties seem earnest in their intention to negotiate.

If such a tax deal were to be included in the budget, Washington would be doing a great service to Americans. Few people benefit from the currently daunting system and a new, simpler, and fairer tax code would offer stability to the private budgets of American families. Closing loopholes will prevent a circumstance that President Obama and Democrats have so fervently decried: millionaires paying lower taxes than their secretaries. And this fairness will be achieved without suffocating small businesses and other members of the private sector with higher — and more complex — taxes.

Admittedly, entitlement spending will have a battlefield of its own during budget negotiations. It is very unlikely that Republicans will successfully repeal Obamacare by means of the budget, but most other subjects of contention, if both sides are in fact earnest in their calls for a deal, will be settled with relative equity. Indeed, the tone with which Senators and Congress members alike are discussing their approaches has relative practicality compared to the pontifications that dominated fiscal cliff and sequestration negotiations not long ago. There is finally potential for responsible governing in Washington and, if any semblance of a reasonable deal is made, America will be better off than without a budget at all.