Minnesotans know firsthand what the consequences are when politicians aren't able to compromise.
We saw it in 2011 when our Democratic governor and Republican-controlled House and Senate failed to figure out how to fix a $5 billion deficit until it was too late. It led to a three-week state government shutdown.
Today, it has become quite obvious that compromise is a four-letter word in Washington as well.
While some pundits think the "fiscal cliff" has been exaggerated and use the national media to spread their hyperbolic theory, we should all be concerned, and not just because we in Minnesota are painfully aware of what happens when politicians refuse to give.
"There are a lot of options in terms of how to get there," House Speaker John Boehner said this weekend when asked for details about the Republicans' plan for coming up with some $800 billion in new government revenue during the next decade.
It's that kind of non-transparency that worries us, but at least we're starting to learn more about what both sides are planning.
Boehner did say the GOP would consider the elimination of tax deductions on high-income earners - a plan being pushed by the White House - but that, too, is quite a vague statement. Republican leaders have said they will accept higher tax revenue overall through "tax reforms" (closing loopholes and limiting deductions) and we learned Monday about the GOP's proposal to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and lower cost-of-living increases to Social Security benefits, but it still leaves the American public on the outside looking in, fingers crossed that something will get ironed out sometime before Dec. 31. In short, we're holding our collective breath.
The Democrats have let us know their plan, too: $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over a decade, hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending, a possible extension of the temporary Social Security payroll tax cut and enhancing the president's power to raise the national debt limit. But Republicans have made it clear that's a plan they will not support in full, and Boehner, who said he was "flabbergasted" by those ideas, said "there's clearly a chance" the nation will go over the "cliff." At least on that point, he's able to conjure up some brutal honesty.
We would be foolish to assume partisanship wouldn't play a role in "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but is it too much to expect our elected officials to work as one to steer us away from the "cliff?" All we're getting now is proposals and fingerpointing.