Why conservatives can't compromise on the debt ceiling...

This post originally appeared here.

National Review columnist Mark Steyn makes an excellent point this morning:

There is something surreal and unnerving about the so-called “debt ceiling” negotiations staggering on in Washington. In the real world, negotiations on an increase in one’s debt limit are conducted between the borrower and the lender. Only in Washington is a debt increase negotiated between two groups of borrowers.

Actually, it’s more accurate to call them two groups of spenders. On the one side are Obama and the Democrats, who in a negotiation supposedly intended to reduce American indebtedness are (surprise!) proposing massive increasing in spending (an extra $33 billion for Pell Grants, for example). The Democrat position is: You guys always complain that we spend spend spend like there’s (what’s the phrase again?) no tomorrow, so be grateful that we’re now proposing to spend spend spend spend like there’s no this evening.

On the other side are the Republicans, who are the closest anybody gets to representing, albeit somewhat tentatively and less than fullthroatedly, the actual borrowers — that’s to say, you and your children and grandchildren. But in essence the spenders are negotiating among themselves how much debt they’re going to burden you with. It’s like you and your missus announcing you’ve set your new credit limit at $1.3 million, and then telling the bank to send demands for repayment to Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s kindergartner next door.

Nothing good is going to come from these ludicrously protracted negotiations over laughably meaningless accounting sleights-of-hand scheduled to kick in circa 2020. All the charade does is confirm to prudent analysts around the world that the depraved ruling class of the United States cannot self-correct, and, indeed, has no desire to.

Steyn essentially argues that we’re kidding ourselves if we think the debate in Washington is really going to change all that much, what with Senate Republican leadership willing to capitulate to Democrats at the drop of a hat.

I recorded a program for Fairfax Public Television over the weekend, and at one point the moderator asked me about the debate over cutting spending in Washington and the refusal of conservatives to accept raising the debt ceiling without taking serious measures to curb spending.

I dug deep and was able to come up with something like this:

For the better part of 70 years, both political parties in Washington have been content to increase spending and create debt. During that time, only a small minority actually called for decreasing spending and actually meant it. Let’s say it was about 10%. But you can’t do anything with such a slim minority.

After the 2010 elections, Republicans took control of the House, and among their ranks are a substantial number of conservatives. They don’t make up a majority of the Caucus — I don’t think — but they’re vocal. And those who were elected last November “don’t know how Washington works,” so they’re less willing to accept compromise than Members who have been in Washington for several terms.

So, over the course of the last 70 years, we’ve had compromise, compromise, compromise… more spending, more debt. And where has that gotten us? Right here. In a mess.

And who’s contributed to the mess? 90% of the ruling class in D.C.

On this public access program, I was asked why conservatives wouldn’t give in and agree to raise taxes or accept any proposals from the Democrats, to which I responded — it hasn’t been working! True conservatives have been shut out of the debate for decades. As far as I can tell, conservatives who want to cut government spending have about 70 years worth of catching up to do.

The time for compromise on the right has passed. It’s time to make significant cuts to government spending.

And what’s with this notion of compromise for the sake of compromise anyway? To paraphrase Erick Erickson, sometimes the evil party and the stupid party come together to do something that’s both evil and stupid all for the sake of compromise and bipartisanship.

What good is it if both parties sell us down the river just so they can say they worked together to do it?

We’ve finally changed the debate in Washington from “What can we spend?” to “What can we cut?” — It’s the first time in probably forever that this sort of debate is taking place in Washington.

Conservatives should stand their ground and fight for their principles now more than ever.