When Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi launched their massive spending spree in January 2009, many Americans wondered: what are they doing? It appeared to make no sense.

Eight hundred billion in "stimulus" spending. Three hundred and fifty billion in additional spending for TARP. One trillion in additional domestic discretionary spending added to the already swollen budget.

Then they unleashed plans to spend one trillion taxing real energy and subsidizing imaginary energy. Another one, two, or three trillion on a government takeover of health care.

Unemployment rose. Several million jobs were killed. Debt skyrocketed.

This was no a mistake. It was the plan.

The goal of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi was to increase federal government spending from 20% of GDP to 25% of GDP. The next step was to get the Republican congressmen and Senators to "be reasonable," "be pragmatic" and put their fingerprints on a tax hike to pay for the new spending levels and make them permanent.

The end game for Democrats was -- and is -- the imposition of a Value Added Tax (VAT)-- a European style national sales tax that increases the price of all goods and services by a few percent to start with. The VAT is an easy tax to raise. Citizens see prices rise and blame businesses for the costs imposed by government. Clever. European rates have risen to 20 and 25 percent.

With a VAT in place, America would become a cross between France and Greece and such social democracies have so many people dependent on the State that soon there is no limited government party to even contest the permanent transformation of America into Europe.

But this is America and the electorate revolted in November 2010, interrupting the plan.

So here stand the two competing tendencies: Reagan Republicans control the House. Republicans and Democrats both have enough votes in the Senate to filibuster anything they really dislike. The Democrat president can veto anything he doesn't like.

In November 2012 there are 23 Senate Democrats up for re-election -- ten of whom are vulnerable -- and ten Republicans are up for re-election -- two of which might be vulnerable.

Until then there will be stalemate: not compromise, but stalemate.

Compromises occur when two competing parties are trying to do the same thing but disagree on timing or pace.

But here Reagan Republicans want to reduce the cost of government back to the 18 or 20% of GDP that existed before Obama. Democrats want to maintain the higher spending levels and extract more tax money from America to pay for their newly engorged government. Republicans want less spending. Democrats want more. Republicans want to move west. Democrats want to move east....what would a "compromise" look like?

Someone wins and someone loses. That is why so much of the fight in Washington is posturing and angling to get the public relations advantage.

The long term direction of the federal budget will be determined not by backroom negotiations in smoked-filled rooms this year or next, but by the 2012 election.

A Republican House created by the Tea Party movement being joined by a similarly instructed Republican Senate and Republican President leads to one future.

A return to a Democrat House, Senate and president leads back to the tax-and-spend and regulate policies of the previous two years.

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a taxpayer advocacy group he founded in 1985 at President Reagan's request. ATR is a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at the federal, state and local levels. ATR organizes the TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. In the 112th Congress, 237 House members and 41 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 13 governors and 1249 state legislators have taken the pledge.