The New York Times
March 1, 2013
Deep Philosophical Divide Underlies the Impasse
By JOHN HARWOOD
WASHINGTON — Let’s play truth or consequences with the budget sequestration that took effect on Friday.
That can be difficult through the fog of political war that has hung over this town. But a step back illuminates roots deeper than the prevailing notion that Washington politicians are simply fools acting for electoral advantage or partisan spite.
Republicans don’t seek to grind government to a halt. But they do aim to shrink its size by an amount currently beyond their institutional power in Washington, or popular support in the country, to achieve.
Democrats don’t seek to cripple the nation with debt. But they do aim to preserve…show more content… It worked again when Republicans declined to fight anew over the debt limit until May, at the earliest.
That doesn’t mean it will work again by making Republicans accept a second tax increase.
Over the last generation, polarization has melted away the alloy that once narrowed differences between Republicans and Democrats, leaving both as masses of near-pure ideological ore.
The Republican rank-and-file is purer — more conservative than the Democratic rank-and-file is liberal.
Resisting tax increases is a matter of such deep conviction that some senior Republicans believe House colleagues would fire John A. Boehner as House speaker for conceding to Mr. Obama again. For less ideological Republicans, the partisan composition of their districts and states can make following national opinion riskier (against a more conservative primary challenger) than defying it (against a Democratic general-election foe).
The difficulty of winning a second tax increase may ultimately make the president regret the fiscal-cliff deal, which brought only half the new revenue he considers necessary.
For now, he seeks to grind down his opposition as the impact of sequestration mounts for air travelers, education programs and the Pentagon. Against Republicans’ solid edge on the issue of spending restraint (in this week’s NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll), he wields wide Democratic advantages on helping the middle class and protecting