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Keller @ Large: Why Grand Bargain Compromise Is A Positive Story

BOSTON (CBS) - A lot of trees have died in recent years documenting the disappearance of compromise and the decline of our government into gridlock and partisan bitterness. And it has been a depressing sight, given that our system of checks on and balances of power was designed to promote the art of the deal and the peaceful settlement of differences.

So it should have been a genuine celebration up in Governor Charlie Baker's office Thursday when he signed the so-called "grand bargain" between business interests and a coalition of labor and liberal activists, a measure that ushers in new parental and family leave requirements and a phased-in boost to the minimum wage in exchange for a reduction in overtime-pay mandates and the creation of a permanent sales-tax holiday.

baker signs grand bargain bill
Gov. Baker signed the bill Thursday morning. (WBZ-TV)

But as the Boston Globe's Joshua Miller pointed out, key negotiators for the lobbies on both sides weren't there for the party. The head of the Retailer's Association said he had a scheduling conflict but didn't see much to celebrate in the deal for business. A co-chair of the so-called "Raise Up" coalition said essentially the same thing, that he skipped the event because it would make it seem like he backed the entire deal when he did not.

I understand how these folks feel, they're advocates who now have to justify their compromises to allies who may not be sympathetic. But their discomfort is exactly the reason why the deal is a positive story. Any good compromise involves give and take - everybody gets something, even if nobody gets everything they wanted. And that's the way democracy works, when it isn't breaking down.

Share your opinion with me via email at, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

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