Our Views: A short fix, not a solution

Vote for the mess. It’s important.

Slightly amended from the famous bumper sticker of the Edwin Edwards-David Duke governor’s race — “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.” — the last-minute tax deal in Washington ought to inspire much ambivalence among the American people.

The Senate and House finally signed off on a deal to avoid a year-end mandated series of tax increases and budget cuts that were called the “fiscal cliff.”

At the end, with senators and congressmen working themselves into a partisan stalemate, it took a series of phone calls between two seventy-something veterans of the Senate — Republican leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Vice President Joe Biden — to settle on something that could get a majority, somehow, some way.

What is worrisome is that this is hardly the kind of thoughtful reaching-across-the-aisle process that will corral enough votes in Congress to really address the huge looming problem of the budget deficits facing this country.

By and large, we agree with the members who voted for the bill, including both U.S. senators from Louisiana. However, the no-compromise wing of the Republican Party in the House found several adherents in the Louisiana delegation, with only one of six GOP House members from the state backing the compromise.

The nature of compromise is that it is not perfect. An easy “no” vote did not reflect well on the House members, who apparently preferred deadlock and chaos to the Biden-McConnell deal.

But the problem is that there is still a hangover to be faced in the New Year. We agree with a Deutshe Bank economist, Joseph LaVorgna, who told The Associated Press that the deal does not amount to a final fix. “There are much bigger philosophical issues that we aren’t even addressing yet,” he said.

Maybe it is beyond the power of America’s splintered society to make this work.

We called for compromise that would last, with President Barack Obama and Republicans agreeing to a mix of tax increases and spending cuts that would get the economy out of the political spin cycle for a while, maybe even a couple of years. The benefits of stability would be substantial, even if none of us likes to pay more in taxes.

That is definitely not the result of this last-minute approval of a mess.