Both sides must show leadership

As our ship of state drifts haplessly toward a rapidly approaching fiscal waterfall of our own making, it is increasingly imperative that our elected representatives drop their rigid ideologies and work quickly to forge meaningful compromise.

The stakes are no doubt high, as leading economists warn that the effect of looming budget cuts coupled with crippling, across-the-board tax hikes will undoubtedly spark a new recession just as we struggle to recover from the last one.

Republicans signal willingness to put revenue on the negotiating table in exchange for spending cuts, but they intransigently insist that revenue be raised only by a tightening of loopholes and deductions while incredibly holding dead-set against achieving the same goal by means of raising effective tax rates.

Democrats, likewise, hold the middle class hostage with their blind insistence on higher tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans come hell or high water. As a concept, raising tax rates on the wealthy may seem fair and principled, but as a practical matter it’s simply negligible. More realistically, it would have a chilling effect on economic growth and thus be counterproductive by design.

Thoughtful Americans, whose interests are not yet entirely consumed by such diversions as pro sports and powerball, are deeply disappointed in watching their leaders abscond from their responsibility to avert this crisis when they should be working overtime on getting our fiscal ship back on course. We know that taxes have to go up, and we really don’t care whether it takes the form of rate increases or the closing of loopholes and deductions just as long as it’s broadly targeted to achieve optimal beneficial effect.

We also know that for any of this to work, serious spending cuts and entitlement reform must factor prominently into the equation. However, Democrats signal that they’re readying for yet another round of stimulus spending, while making vague promises to enact spending cuts at some point in the future.

Now, more than ever, is the time for both political parties to prove whether or not they can display a modicum of leadership. President Obama hasn’t helped matters by planning an ill-advised vacation in Hawaii come January, just as this tidal wave of onerous measures is timed to hit. We need a true captain at the helm in Washington to gather up leaders in both parties, sit them down and get them busy in an honest and serious effort to craft reasonable and balanced solutions to avert further collapse of our national credit rating, the stock market, funding for defense, and the economic well-being of our nation at large.

Art Hansen


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