In recent Utah history there have been two instances where Republican national pols who were more likely to try to reach common ground with Democrats suffered politically. Former U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon was defeated by current U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is a 2008 primary. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett didn’t even make it to a primary, losing at the 2010 state GOP convention. His successor is Sen. Mike Lee, a Tea Party favorite.
The fates of Cannon and Bennett were noted by Sen. Orrin Hatch. For the 2012 election year, Hatch, with the help of millions of dollars, re-energized his inner-Tea Party soul for the benefit of Utah Republicans. And he was successful, fending off a primary challenge from Davis County’s former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist.
In an Associated Press article published in this newspaper, the experiences of Rep. Chaffetz, now a House veteran, exemplify why it’s so difficult for competing political parties to reach compromise on issues such as taxes, entitlement reforms or even reaching a budget.
That once-normal procedure has been replaced by continuing resolutions and sequestration deals that provide temporary budget deals but put off long-term measures. Meanwhile, the debt, and deficit grows.
The problem, as it detailed in the article that features Chaffetz, is that his constituents overwhelmingly want him to oppose virtually all of the president’s agenda, from ObamaCare to taxes, to entitlements. Frankly, that sentiment also occurs in Rep. Rob Bishop’s district.
In short, there’s no interest in compromise, only opposition. And the pol who tries to compromise, or in any other way buck the party line, will soon be out of office.
Now this intransigence is bipartisan. The administration’s incuriosity on deficits and the staggering debt is just a reaction to their constituencies, who seem to labor under the illusion that a stiff tax hike on the wealthy will solve our problems.
With sequestration coming closer and Democrats opposed to cuts and Republicans opposed to Clinton-era tax rates, we’d love to see pols with the moxie to come to an agreement that supports both entitlement cuts and tax rate hikes. That would be a rare national legislator; unfortunately, due to gerrymandering, it would likely lead to that pol’s defeat come the next election.