Our country’s elected leaders are under a lot of pressure to broker a “grand bargain” on taxes and spending that both parties can agree on in order to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

But historically, grandiose deals conceived through compromise between the White House and Congress have been losers for conservatives.

Heritage Foundation expert Patrick Knudsen explains:

Such agreements tend to produce higher taxes and higher spending with little or no deficit reduction. Congress and the President should dispel any visions of a “grand bargain” and focus on the task at hand: avoiding the fiscal cliff.

These deals, he adds, “have typically just yielded higher taxes, while the promised spending restraint (except in national defense) and deficit reduction have failed to materialize.”

The Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations all saw bipartisan deals that included tax increases and spending cuts in order to reduce the deficit. Ultimately these deals just led to larger government, as Knudsen cautions: “Even genuinely successful deficit reduction can lead to expanded government, allowing both parties to declare victory.”

Knudsen recommends that Congress should prioritize a genuine solution to the fiscal cliff over a compromise for its own sake. Our leaders should draw from history, which should “give pause to advocates of a grand budget deal between the President and Congress—especially those who are seeking to limit the size and scope of government.”

Here’s what Congress should do instead:

  • Preclude the huge tax hike known as Taxmageddon;
  • Prevent the reckless, automatic defense cuts, preferably by choosing alternative savings;
  • Renounce any other tax increases;
  • Resist the temptation to conjure further ad hoc budget schemes and grand bargains; and
  • Return as soon as possible to the regular practice of congressional budgeting.

Do you think Congressional conservatives should strike a deal at all costs?

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