Fix America’s Fiscal Imbalance NOW, Not Next Year: An Open Letter to Congress
By John B. Wood
Dear Members of the House & Senate:
For many months, if not years, along with millions of other Americans I have waited with increasing frustration for Congress and the White House to begin putting our nation’s fiscal affairs in order. Everyone agrees that our ever-growing national debt – the simple result of spending more than we take in – cannot be sustained. But sadly, few policy-makers seem willing to look for common ground to close that fiscal gap.
This unwillingness to compromise has got to stop. Now. Not in January; not sometime next year; and certainly not sometime in the future when your respective parties might control all the levers of power. Now. Before this Congress adjourns in late December.
We’re counting on you to work with and to convince your colleagues to make that happen.
That means Congress will need to take specific actions to reach a compromise – actions that you or I may not necessarily agree with completely – including raising revenues and cutting spending for programs and services. By repeatedly postponing such hard decisions in recent years, Washington has only made the problem worse. We’re in such a deep hole now that there can’t be meaningful deficit reduction without affecting quite a few sacred cows. Everything needs to be on the table now. It’s that serious.
It’s not just the looming threat of sequestration or expiring tax cuts that concern our nation, our business community and our citizens – though both warrant plenty of concern. What is truly distressing is the enormous pent-up economic uncertainty fueled by the disbelief and disappointment that policy-makers will not put aside their partisanship long enough to work together to make the hard choices and find the compromises necessary to reach a meaningful deficit reduction deal. Make no mistake – this national uncertainty has turned to growing apprehension that the government is perilously close to endangering America’s credit rating, triggering another recession of unknown magnitude and possibly causing another economic crisis such as we saw in 2008 – the worst possible outcome.
Here’s what I believe America wants and what we expect of our elected officials:
Put aside your politics and pre-conceived notions and work together to fix this problem.
Go to your leadership and demand that they make the compromises necessary to get the biggest possible deficit reduction deal before the holiday adjournment. Support the leadership, even if you don’t agree with everything they’re doing – because you won’t agree with everything. If it’s to be an effective deficit reduction package, everyone will feel the pain.
Convince your colleagues to stop the political rhetoric. Ask them to hold their fire for just one month to allow your leaders the flexibility to negotiate the best deal, not for your respective parties, but for the good of our nation.
If any of your colleagues are worried that certain changes on either the spending or revenue side may alienate a key constituency or interest group, making them vulnerable to a possible primary challenge in the future, reassure them that they should never fear the politics of doing the right thing in a crisis. The best governing is always the best politics. America recognizes that.
So do the right thing. Convince your leadership and your colleagues that you must spend the remainder of this current session doing what’s necessary and right for America and fix this fiscal problem – now.