Half a Loaf, Better Than No Loaf

July 18, 2017

With three children in my household, negotiation is a way of life. In our family, it’s a daily challenge to find the middle ground to settle the disputes and meet the needs of three girls—all under the age of 10. It’s also needed to help ensure a fragment of fairness, a pinch of peace and a smidge of sanity for the parents. For the most part, my girls get it. And hopefully, the art of compromise is a trait they’ll carry into adulthood.

Understanding that half a loaf is better than no loaf is a concept often overlooked by many in Congress these days. America is not an extremist country. We’re not dominated by those on the far left or right. We’re moderate. This is a fact that Ronald Reagan knew well.

I recall how Reagan handled himself shortly into his first term as he tried to follow through on his economic agenda and tax reform. When questioned by a reporter about whether he was abandoning his principles and campaign promises, Reagan replied, “There are some people who would have you stand on principle that if you don’t get all that you’ve asked for from the legislature, you jump off the cliff with the flag flying. I have always figured that half a loaf is better than none and I know that in the democratic process, you’re not always going to get what you want.”

Sage advice for our polarized political playground. In 1981, Reagan faced a divided government where the GOP could not enact legislation without significant Democratic support. Reaching out and working with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Reagan choreographed two landmark tax reform bills, comprehensive immigration reform and Social Security reform.

Today’s leadership faces similar issues where compromise is needed. As you may have read in the June edition of TitleNews, among the items on the agenda are regulatory relief and tax reform. Both sides must learn that making concessions shows strong leadership, not compromised beliefs. You are not going to get all you want. Get what you can reasonably negotiate. Move on. That shows strong leadership, not compromised beliefs. Half a loaf is always better than none.

Michelle L. Korsmo is ALTA's chief executive officer. She can be reached at mkorsmo@alta.org.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.