As Democrats and Republicans mindlessly bash each other on the upcoming sequester cuts, it’s worth noting that the sequester was designed to be so distasteful that it would force Congress to act. Now, our dysfunctional Congress is willing to swallow its own poison pill rather than act in a responsible way and work toward a compromise.
What’s especially disturbing is that Republican Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles stepped up again last week and offered a sober, stable way out of this mess. And everyone on Capitol Hill ignored them.
The new Simpson-Bowles plan offers a big dose of old-fashioned bipartisanship, as did their 2010 proposal. It’s a mix of spending cuts and revenue enhancements through tax reforms.
But in Washington, where intelligent discourse no longer exists, the grown-up, realistic approach taken by Simpson-Bowles to the federal budget mess is hopelessly out of step.
Already, the plan produced by these two Washington wisemen – is yesterday’s news, left in the dust as Twitter and Facebook steer the national conversation in new directions by the hour.
At the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group that has been way ahead of the curve on budget issues for many years, the new Simpson-Bowles blueprint was endorsed as a “credible, responsible and comprehensive framework for addressing the nation’s growing debt burden.”
As the March 1 deadline for sequestration rapidly approaches, former Democratic senator Sam Nunn, a Concord Coalition co-chair said this:“Some people on both sides of the aisle seem content to let a disaster hit, blame it on the other side, and then try to clean up the damage. Our nation can't continue to afford such political brinksmanship. Neither side is ever going to get 100 percent of what it wants no matter how many gimmicks are used to gain the upper hand in negotiations.”
Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, is trying to talk some sense into our lawmakers before allow implementation of a plan that everyone in Washington agrees is a bad approach.
“In last year’s Strengthening of America – Our Children’s Future initiative, undertaken with a number of other organizations, we found that bipartisan consensus is both essential and possible to achieve a fiscally sustainable plan to strengthen the economy, save future generations from rising debt, and protect the nation’s security. The new Simpson-Bowles framework is fully consistent with our conclusions,” said Bixby.
“The ‘sequestration’ is fast approaching and must be dealt with, but it is the long-term debt burden facing this country that threatens our existence as a global power. More must be done to bring health care costs under control. The tax code is still in need of pro-growth reform. Social Security still faces a growing gap between benefit payments and dedicated revenues.
“As stated in the Strengthening of America report: ‘Fortunately, there are those in Washington who put the country’s future before their political parties. Americans should get behind these courageous leaders — and soon. We can no longer afford to act out Winston Churchill’s prediction that America will always do the right thing, after it has explored every other alternative. It’s time to do the right thing.’”