Matthews on why the GOP won’t compromise

Updated

Let me finish tonight with Ronald Reagan.

People make a mistake when they overdo this thing about the Great Communicator being the Great Compromiser.

When he met with Mikhail Gorbachev he didn’t give on missile defense.  He despised the very notion of mutually assured destruction and refused to accept Gorbachev’s demand that the United States promise not to develop a missile shield. 

But there are other areas where he “did” compromise.  He did agree in 1982 to let taxes go up as part of a deal to cut the deficit. In the following year, after a significant defeat in the mid-term congressional elections, he agreed to a compromise reform of Social Security.  It leaned heavily on extending the tax base for the program and rejected any sizable cuts in benefits.  In other words, it reflected the results of the election that has just been held.

So the relevance is right here in front of us. President Obama just had his party get licked in a mid-term election. He’s gone to the Republicans with a debt reduction plan that leans heavily in the Republican direction - spending cuts three times the size of revenue increases. He’s doing what Reagan did, giving the other side the benefit of an election victory.  They won - they get the biggest piece of the pie. But, guess what? The Republicans aren’t dealing. They’ve got the Tea Party calling the plays and that means it’s their way or nothing. 

Look, Obama and Reagan are governing from different sides of the 50 yard line, but the point is they’re playing fair and by the rules. The side that wins gets the better end of the deal. If the far right would get their heads around what’s going on and stop worrying about the hottest head at the next tea party meeting - they’d get it.  It’s called leadership - not followership.  

Yeah, it’s easier to join the protesters, they don’t have to do anything - legislators have to legislate - it’s why they get paid - to do a job. Protesting, carrying placards and yelling is part of our American way - it just isn’t the same as governing.

Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama

Matthews on why the GOP won't compromise

Updated