David Brooks: Every Side Gets To Spend On What They Want To, That's How They Can Compromise


PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the bipartisan budget deal that increases spending and add to the deficit, President Trump’s defense of a White House aide accused of domestic abuse and questions about the future of chief of staff John Kelly.

Brooks said the only way to get the parties to agree to a compromise on budgetary matters is letting each side spend on what they want to spend by expanding the deficit.

"They have never been able to compromise when both parties have to take some pain," Brooks said.

"They have been able to compromise when it comes to expanding the deficits," the NYT columnist said. "And that’s consistently been true over the past many years."

"If you’re just — if every side gets to spend on what they want to spend, that’s the way they can compromise. They have never been able to compromise when both parties have to take some pain. And so that’s the kind of compromise they can’t do," Brooks said.

Brooks said this form of transactional politics is hypocritical because everyone is for cutting when they're in the minority and they are against it when they are in the majority. Brooks said economics used to matter to the Republican party, but now it is a "secondary politics." He said the party's "first language" is immigration because it has now become a party of "identity" politics:

BROOKS: What strikes me as special about this is that everyone is a hypocrite on the deficits. They’re all for cutting red ink when they’re in the minority and they’re all against it when they’re in the majority.

But there is a shift in tone in the Republican Party that seems interesting to me, which is, it used to be a party that talked the language of economics first. Its native language was economics, an economic language, and so the budget really did sort of matter, and the budget really mattered, and tax cuts mattered.

Now economics is a secondary language for the Republican Party. Immigration is the first language. It’s an identity party, not an economic party, right now. And so they’re willing to compromise on a lot of spending if they can win on immigration. And that’s sort of where the party has gone.

Brooks said deficits tend to come down when there is divided government as opposed to one-party rule, which we have now -- "Democrats like spending; Republicans love tax cuts."

He said if there is a movement for a third party that debt would be a "big part," making a reference to Ross Perot.

"I’m not a big believer in third parties, but if there is a third party movement, I suspect the debt will be a big part of that," the columnist said. "Remember how powerful that issue was for Ross Perot."

He warned as interest rates rise due to the burden of paying down debt we "become a government that just pays the bankers."

"We can say deficits are going away as an issue, but deficits aren’t going away as a reality," Brooks said. "And as interest rates go up, the burden of paying just down the debt begins to swallow more and more of the budget. It cuts out of the defense spending. It cuts out of domestic discretionary spending. And you just become a government that just pays bankers. And that could be a gigantic issue, especially as interest rates rise."

When the discussion turned toward the resignation of Rob Porter, the president's staff secretary accused by two ex-wives of domestic abuse, Brooks said the response by Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly reflected their lack of "instinctual moral disgust."

"We have learned a couple things about Kelly," Brooks said. "He had the earlier comment that some of the DACA people were lazy. And then he — but the guy who allegedly beats his wife is honorable. I mean, that’s a contrast."

"We have learned that he — a guy who signs up to work with Donald Trump that closely shares a lot of the views of Donald Trump. I guess it shouldn’t surprise us, but he also has had a bit of a stabilizing influence," he added.

"Whether he should go or not, I mean, I would just like to see him issue a statement that he’s morally disgusted by this behavior," Brooks requested. "You lose the social standards of how a man is supposed to behave, you have got a lot of bad stuff that comes out."

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