Sunday, April 10, 2005


Compromise: A lose-lose proposition

Suppose the Democrats are trying to create some new $10B program. The Republicans have two choices: agree to a $5B "compromise" program, or let the program pass for the full $10B over their objections. Which course of action is better?

I would posit that the first course of action is pure folly. If the program works at all, the Democrats will take all the credit and the Republicans will be blamed for not having let it work even better. If the program doesn't work, the Republicans will be blamed for not having allowed it the necessary funding. In either case, the inevitable result will be that the program will get at least $10B/year forevermore.

By contrast, if the Republicans say the program is a completely horrible idea but the Democrats nonetheless give it full funding, then if the program fails to live up to its promises, the Republicans will be well positioned to argue that it failed because it was a bad idea and it should be cut entirely. The Democrats will not be able to deflect any blame for the program's failure, since they will have gotten exactly what they asked for. The Republicans, having been consistent in their uncompromising opposition to the program, will be vindicated. And while the program's first-year appropriation will have been $10B instead of $5B, the future appropriations will be $0/year instead of $10B/year. So the sacrifice of the initial "extra" $5B will repay itself double in the second year, and will pay off 200% every year thenceforth.

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