A reader sends in this quite reasonable suggestion about the members of the new 12-person "super committee" that is supposed to work out a budget-and-deficit deal by Thanksgiving time:
>>People should start to say about the GOP 6 on the super committee:
Either they renounce their Norquist Pledge or they are unacceptable. You can not negotiate what's not on the table. And revenue must be on the table. This is not saying that revenue must be part of the solution, but it must be on the table. How can you negotiate with folks who pledge not to negotiate?<<
The suggestion is "quite reasonable" in a logical sense: if parties to a negotiation are pledged not to consider certain options, the discussion is hamstrung before it begins. Of course the same should apply on both sides: Democrats should not go in bound by a pledge to refuse to consider changes in entitlement programs. Obviously we know that each side is strongly biased toward defending its values and interests -- the Republicans skeptical about "revenue" solutions, the Democrats about safety-net changes. But if they're pledged from the start not to budge one inch, what's the point of the meetings at all?
If there were a counterpart to the Norquist Pledge (that's Grover Norquist, above), I'd say that the six Democrats should forswear it. But there isn't one, as far as I'm aware. Whether there is or not, the high-road, national-interest stance for the Democrats -- hell, for all Americans -- should be: no one, from either side, goes into these talks bound by preconditions or constraints. We need to work as honestly and flexibly as we can, with our differing beliefs, to find solutions. Because again, otherwise, there is no point in wasting time with these talks.