Real Spending Restraint Essential

It appears the standoff between liberals and conservatives in Washington is about to end. And make no mistake about it: The confrontation may have been labeled as one between Democrats and Republicans – but it amounted to a duel between big-government liberals and fiscal discipline conservatives.

Early this week, leaders on both sides – President Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., for the liberals and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. for the conservatives – said it appeared a deal would be reached to end the standoff. That would amount to approval by Congress of a continuing resolution to fund government operations and an increase in the national debt limit to allow for more borrowing.

A key to any compromise will be for both sides to save face. Both the Obama-Reid and Boehner-McConnell factions need to be able to claim they scored some sort of triumphs.

But the victory Americans need is to get runaway spending under control. The national debt is nearly $17 trillion – about $52,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

No doubt fiscal conservatives will be able to point to some concessions made by Obama and Reid. A few minor changes in Obamacare appear to be on the horizon. And there may be some on-paper reductions in government spending.

But in a situation such as this, very few people really know the contents of political compromises. Lawmakers take their leaders’ words for much of what is in the bills they approve.

During the next several days, however, Americans will learn whether any real fiscal discipline is included in the compromise. If not, it will be no victory for the American people.