BipartisanThink at the Washington Post

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 26 2013 12:43 PM

BipartisanThink at the Washington Post

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Obama is failing by failing to talk about his correct position in the manner Fred Hiatt prefers

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Today's lead editorial from the Washington Post is a great example of the modalities of BipartisanThink in action. They say that in the debate about how to replace sequestration, Obama has the correct position and his opponents have the incorrect position so the real issue here is that Obama is failing by failing to talk about his correct position in the manner Fred Hiatt prefers [emphasis added]:

In the petty arguments over this self-inflicted wound, there are merits, or demerits, on both sides. The Republicans are right when they say that the sequester was Mr. Obama’s idea, in the summer of 2011, and that he agreed to a deal that was all spending cuts, no tax hikes. He is correct that he hoped the sequester would never go into effect but would be replaced by a 10-year bargain that would raise revenue and slow the growth of entitlement costs. He is correct, too, on the larger point: Such a deal is what’s needed, and the Republicans are wrong to resist further revenue hikes.
But if that’s what’s needed, why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution? From the start, and increasingly in his second term, Mr. Obama has presented entitlement reform as something he would do grudgingly, as a favor to the opposition, when he should be explaining to the American people — and to his party — why it is an urgent national need. Obama priorities such as health and energy research, preschool education and job training: Those come from the discretionary budget.

See, this is the genius of BipartisanThink. Either the parties agree and everyone can cheer and everything's good, or else the parties don't agree in which case one party is wrongly taking the wrong side of the argument and the other party is wrongly failing to lead the other party to the true path. Equipoise preserved. James Fallows dubs this an example of "false equivalence" but it's not really. The parties are accused of nonequivalent sins. It's just that both sides are doing something blameworthy. Republicans are adhering to a bad principle, and Democrats are failing to persuade them to abandon their bad principle.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.