New Castle News

Editorials

November 30, 2012

Our Opinion: Politicians point fingers rather than solve problems

NEW CASTLE — In the days following this year’s general election, there were glimmers of hope that some of Washington’s rancor might subside.

Of particular concern is the so-called fiscal cliff, the tough tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to automatically take effect unless Congress and the president can agree on an alternative.

Comments from Democratic and Republican leadership generally approach the issue from a recognition that compromise is necessary and action was needed. While hardline voices linger on the left and right, there seemed to be newfound commitment to work together on the part of most politicians.

Unfortunately, that assessment may have been a bit premature. A meeting yesterday involving high-level Republicans and Democrats appeared to produce little beyond finger pointing and accusations.

Emerging from the session, House Speaker John Boehner said, “No substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House.” And he stressed that’s been the case in talks stretching back two weeks.

Furthermore, the Republican Boehner said his party was looking for a proposal to cut spending from the Obama administration, but none has been forthcoming.

That prompted this response from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Republicans know where we stand. We’re still waiting for a serious offer from Republicans.”

We understand fiscal discussions of this magnitude are bound to be difficult. And there is a reluctance to stick one’s neck out by making a specific political proposal — especially in Washington.

But at this point — with the fiscal cliff looming and the financial markets sending out repeated warnings about the consequences of doing nothing — we would hope that officials in Washington would make the effort and avoid the blame game.

With current negotiations taking place behind closed doors, the public has no means of assessing the real state of affairs in these budget talks. So the two parties seem to be playing to their respective audiences.

Yet for Americans looking for real answers to Washington’s fiscal woes, this sort of rhetoric is dispiriting. It’s just more of the same from a political system that continues to demonstrate its dysfunction.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plans out there that provide a framework for resolving these issues. Most prominent among them is the Simpson-Bowles plan. It may not be pretty, but it spreads the pain.

And yes, there will be pain in deficit reduction. Anything else amounts to wishful thinking. And that’s the sort of mentality that breeds budget deficits in the first place.

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