Editorial: People in Washington must put country's fiscal health above party politics

As Americans continue to digest the details of last week’s 11th-hour deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, it’s obvious that President Obama and Congress did little to address the nation’s looming debt crisis.

In fact, there’s little to crow about, other than the avoidance of higher taxes on most Americans and deep across-the-board

cuts that would have kicked in had no deal been consummated.

But the White House and majority in Congress continue to ignore the fact that the country’s national debt increases by $3

billion every day.

Anyone who believes this sustainable can only be classified as irrational.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the deal will increase deficits by $4.6 trillion by 2022 and

that under the current revenue and spending forecasts, the United States’ debt will, in 10 years, reach 79 percent of this

country’s Gross Domestic Product.

By all measures, that falls under the definition of insanity.

Two former U.S. senators, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who co-founded the nonpartisan Fix the Debt organization, decried

the fact that our leaders turned their backs on an opportunity to whittle the debt.

‘‘Washington missed this magic

moment to do something big to reduce the deficit, reform our tax code,

and fix our entitlement

programs. We have all known for over a year that this fiscal cliff

was coming,’’ Simpson and Bowles said in a joint statement.

‘‘In fact, Washington politicians set it up to force themselves to

seriously deal with our nation’s long term fiscal problems.

Yet even after taking the country to the brink of economic

disaster, Washington still could not forge a common sense bipartisan

consensus on a plan that stabilizes the debt.’’

In essence, the president and Congress are trying to fill a massive hole by using a teaspoon.

Few in Washington appear ready to

discuss, much less address, serious reforms to such programs as Medicare

and Social Security.

Fewer than a handful appear to be courageous enough to craft

legislation that would reform the tax code and close ridiculous

loopholes that allow wealthy individuals to shelter income and

corporations to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

Simpson, a Republican, and Bowles, a Democrat, are among the reasoned observers who have argued that the solution to the United

States’ debt must involve both additional revenue and spending cuts.

Following last week’s agreement, they said, ‘‘it will be absolutely necessary for both sides to move beyond their comfort

zone and reach a principled agreement on a comprehensive plan which puts the debt on a clear downward path relative to the


The question remains if there are enough good men and women in Washington who will put this country’s fiscal health above party politics and their fortunes in the next election.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.