Archived Story

Nation needs a deal

Published 11:27am Friday, November 9, 2012

Daily Herald editorial

Early indications are that the major Washington players — leaders of the Senate and Congress, along with the president — are willing to cooperate on a long-standing impasse that, if not resolved soon, could plunge the nation into a fiscal crisis. Americans ought to actively hope that these early promises of cooperation hold true.

For years, partisan politics has held good government hostage in Washington, a situation that is nowhere more evident than in the looming expiration of a suite of federal spending and tax laws. Without a new plan in place before the start of 2013, the economy is going to take a double hit: automatic spending cuts and tax increases. It is perhaps unfortunate, but the federal government is a gigantic piece of the nation’s economy, so when it hiccups, the nation catches cold.

This scenario is well understood in Washington. The trouble is that all the players have been so busy trying to push their own agendas that they have been unable to put together a solution that everyone can live with. Now they’re up against a deadline. And while the balance of power in Washington has not really shifted, this week’s election has ended all the players’ hopes that their position will be improved and their opponents’ position weakened. So now it’s time to get some governing done.

Congress and the president need to swiftly reach an agreement that is more than a patchwork and temporary solution. They need to identify long-term spending plans and sustainable, long-term tax plans that will meet the nation’s needs without plunging it into economic chaos. Given early comments, there is at least a chance that will happen — a bigger chance than there has been in some time.

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