Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bipartisanship ... Fiscal Cliff ... Solutions Available and Being Discussed ... That's a Good Thing

We wrote recently about the danger of the approaching fiscal cliff at year end. Therein we predicted that the "cliff" would be avoided and a deal would be reached before disaster strikes. Now some good news comes from two very distinguished politicians about the need and likelihood for compromise.

That means there's some much needed grown-up conversation taking place in Washington about the clear need to adopt a bipartisan approach to find an acceptable long term solution and way out of the huge and most serious financial mess we're in as a nation.

While not a done deal by any means, at least the "fiscal cliff avoidance" talk is now beginning to center around HOW to structure such an agreement instead of WHETHER such an agreement is possible.

Domenici and Rivlin say bipartisanship is the only way to solve debt:

"The co-chairs of a widely praised bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit have one message for the candidate who wins the White House: Don’t wait.

Republican Pete Domenici and Democrat Alice Rivlin spoke at The Brookings Institution Tuesday about how they were able to work across the aisle during their careers in Washington.

“It is the country’s future,” said Domenici, the former senator from New Mexico who served as both chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee during his 36-year tenure on Capitol Hill. “If you know that, then you can sit down as a person and be willing to say I’m willing to talk to Alice.”

Both Domenici and Rivlin said that there was still time for Congress to meet each other in the middle, a way to fast track the legislation to bypass political bickering.

“We are on an unsustainable path, and the things we have to do are all unpleasant,” said Rivlin, who was President Bill Clinton’s director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office.

Rivlin stressed the unpleasant truth that government would have to reduce spending on the so-called entitlement programs that voters like — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“Right now in this political campaign, both sides are trying to scare people by saying this other guy will destroy Medicare,” Rivlin said. “No one is going to destroy Medicare.”

Domenici and Rivlin coauthored “Premium Support: A Primer,” a plan that proposes restructuring Medicare through adding a marketplace and limiting the growth in per-beneficiary spending.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in last week’s debate that he’s in favor of “premium support” as way toward Medicare reformation. President Barack Obama said he prefers a centralized approach.

According to the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center, a “premium support” or voucher plan would save more than $4 trillion between 2016 and 2040.

I don’t think what the public has to undertake is as tough as what people are saying,” Domenici said. 

“The truth of the matter is we don’t have to change Medicare an awful lot, it’s just a little bit, but it’s a little bit over a long period of time.”

Domenici and Rivlin also complained about partisanship in Washington, where trying to create solutions with the other side can lead to one being labeled a traitor.

“I have Democratic colleagues and friends here who think I am betraying the cause by working with Republicans,” Rivlin said. . . .

“It would be good if members of Congress could become friends,” Domenici said. “We need people who are not cheats and thieves and dumb-dumbs to make a deal.”"

Summing Up

Amen to that last part, Senator Domenici. 

Thanks. Bob.

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