By U.S. Reps Mike Simpson and Heath Shuler
“We may be living in divisive times, but if there is one thing almost all Americans can agree on, it is that Congress is doing a pretty poor job. Frankly, it’s not hard to see why they feel this way: time and again, as the country sits on the brink of economic disaster, Congress has failed to act until the last minute and even then has only done the minimum necessary, allowing partisan politics to trump finding common ground in the interest of the American people.
“While political rhetoric continues to move further to the extremes on both sides of the spectrum, the reality is that the solutions to the big problems our nation has faced throughout our history have rarely been found on one end of the spectrum or the other. Instead, they have been found nearer the middle, where Republicans and Democrats have worked together and set aside partisan bickering in order to advance the ideals upon which our nation was founded.
“As the deadline approaches for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the Super Committee, to propose major deficit reductions to Congress, many Americans don’t believe they can succeed. Not only do we think they can succeed, but we don’t believe failure is an option. Like many economic experts, we believe we have this one chance to show the political fortitude to right this sinking ship. Our nation’s economic future depends on Congress’s willingness not only to make the $1.2 trillion in cuts required under the Budget Control Act, but to take this opportunity to go bigger than that and make the $4 trillion in reductions that experts agree is necessary to stabilize our economy.
“We are not the only ones who believe that the Super Committee needs to act now and act big. In fact, we’ve joined with 98 other members of the House, members from both sides of the aisle and across the political spectrum, in sending a letter to the Super Committee urging them to go big. With one voice, 100 Republicans and Democrats are saying that doing the minimum isn’t good enough this time, that $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, difficult as it may be, won’t get us out of the hole we’re in, and that we have this one shot to get it right.
“We all, both Democrats and Republicans, know that we will not be able to get to $4 trillion in deficit reduction unless everything is on the table. Congress must have the political courage to have an honest discussion about all options, or we may soon find that we have run out of options. This is why our letter also urges the Super Committee to put forth a plan that looks at long-term entitlement reforms, the yearly discretionary budget, and government revenues. None of these areas alone can put us on a path to long-term fiscal health; we believe only a serious look at all of these elements will provide the heft needed to reach the necessary savings and convince Americans that Congress is ready to get serious.
“As our deficit crisis has grown, both parties have pointed fingers across the aisle and blamed the policies of the other party for our current financial state. Now that the crisis is looming right before us, there is no more time for finger pointing—and, frankly, the American people no longer have the stomach for it. No political party has a monopoly on failed policies or over-the-top rhetoric. What Americans really want is for Republicans and Democrats to set aside their party labels and focus on what is best for the country.
“There are at least 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have shown the political courage to rise above political pressures and demands and support a plan that can turn our country around. Nearly half of the U.S. Senate has signed a similar letter to the Super Committee, and we are encouraged that this number grows each day. The challenges before the Super Committee and all of Congress are vast, but where there are great challenges, we believe there is also unprecedented opportunity. Now is the time to act.”