Congress faces challenges

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, November 14, 2012

This week the lame duck Congress returns to Capitol Hill to divine a so-far elusive agreement to avoid an economically-damaging combination of automatic federal spending cuts and major tax increases scheduled effective January first. The president has an equal role in the challenging negotiations that lay ahead.  If we are to avoid the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” he must be willing to rise above the partisan politics that dominated his first term and make the greater interests of this nation his priority.

In the final weeks leading up to his re-election, President Obama stated he was committed to pursuing a “grand bargain” with Congress to resolve the looming one-two punch of deep and indiscriminate federal spending cuts and across-the-board tax increases that await with the coming new year. With Nov. 6 behind us and looming cuts just weeks away, there is no time for a political honeymoon. It’s time for his rhetoric to meet reality.

To be clear, there is no quick and easy fix to erase the national debt and jump start our economy.  It must be tackled on a number of fronts including targeted spending cuts, shoring up entitlements, instituting policies that promote economic growth and eliminating those that don’t, and by reforming our outdated and punitive tax code.

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Reforming and simplifying the onerous tax code would generate economic growth, which in turn would also bolster federal revenues needed to pay down the deficit.