As the clock ticks to avert the fiscal cliff ahead of the end-of-year deadline, an increasing number of policymakers and voters are calling for compromise.
In today’s Chicago Tribune, a bipartisan duo of House members, Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), offer a two-step process for replacing the fiscal cliff with a comprehensive plan for reducing the deficit. They point out that the cliff would adversely impact the economy and punting on it and allowing the debt to skyrocket also is not an option. However, bipartisan collaboration can provide a superior path.
But if the parties are willing to compromise, there is a much better solution. A solution that not only avoids the cliff, but sparks economic growth and job creation by putting our nation on a path to fiscal sustainability.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) offered a similar approach this week with guiding principles for how a credible two-stage process could be successfully carried out. With less than three weeks before the end of the year, such a course likely represents the best scenario for responsibly avoided the fiscal cliff.
The bipartisan spirit is bubbling up in other locales. The Houston Chronicle today profiled former Congressmen Jim Chapman (D-TX), Steve Bartlett (R-TX) and Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), who are speaking out against the partisanship and ideological purity that is getting in the way of achieving a deficit solution. They are part of a larger group of former lawmakers from both parties who signed an open letter sponsored by Fix the Debt last week asking their colleagues currently in Congress to work together.
And it’s not just federal policymakers rising up. State and local officials are doing so as well. Anne Arundel County (MD) Council Member Jamie Benoit wrote in the Baltimore Sun that it’s time to come together because the debt affects the priorities of each party.
I am a proud Democrat, and I am certain our debt is crowding out funding for the programs I strongly support. The debt jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of our Medicare and Medicaid obligations and threatens the welfare of thousands of Americans living in or near poverty. That's unacceptable. But if you are a Republican, the debt threatens your favored programs as well, such as maintaining a strong military or keeping tax rates low.
Former Republican Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker had a similar message in an op-ed this week as well. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that for the sake of the economy it is time for action as he joined Fix the Debt as a national co-chair.
The American public also is growing impatient at the lack of bipartisanship and compromise. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 65% of Americans support a balanced approach, even if it includes cuts to entitlements and tax increases. Likewise, a Gallup poll has 70% of voters supporting a compromise agreement to avert the fiscal cliff.
There are still those on both sides who want to stifle compromise and take things off the table. Some Democrats delivered a petition this week with 65,000 signatures asking to take Social Security and Medicare reform off the table and a few Republicans presented a petition with 150,000 signatures rejecting any tax increases. However, the movement for putting everything on the table grows stronger. Over 320,000 Americans have signed the Citizen’s Petition to Fix the Debt demanding an approach that deals with all parts of the budget.