Though the lame-duck session of Congress features a number of pressing items jockeying for attention before adjournment, addressing the potentially devastating effects of sequestration ranks as the most important. The potent cocktail of massive spending reductions and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts could poison the fledgling economic recovery and inflict widespread harm on families already struggling to get by.
A commission chaired by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles presented a framework for reducing the debt that is superior by comparison to the sequestration agreement. … Lawmakers in Washington would do well to revisit that framework as an option for avoiding a more ruinous scenario. …
When the two released their framework for getting the nation’s financial house in order it was celebrated by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who promptly threw it in a drawer and forgot it. That was two years ago, though the public’s outcry for bipartisan solutions to curb the debt has grown ever louder since. The United States cannot hope to meet the demands of a growing population unless dramatic and effective steps are taken.
Logically, such a solution would include a combination of tax increases to raise additional revenue and spending cuts to shrink the size of the federal government. It is in the details where the devil dwells, however, and Republicans and Democrats hold sharply different views on how to proceed. The sequestration agreement was meant to force a bipartisan solution, though one never came. Now the nation threatens to launch itself off the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which would be a devastating mistake.
That is why Washington should return to the measured logic of Bowles-Simpson… It is a more thoughtful framework stemming from bipartisan cooperation, and it represents a more reasonable starting point for debate. A failure to even consider that proposal would be a massive mistake by lawmakers that families here and across the country should not be forced to endure.
— Distributed by The Associated Press