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Probably television stations, which received giant amounts of political advertising revenue this year, are the only ones not glad that the U.S. elections are over. But since many of the races were close at the national and state levels, it will be interesting to see how the victors govern.
President Barack Obama once again proved to be a highly skillful campaigner. Virtually his only misstep was being too passive in his first debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Now we hope he starts using his skills in influencing people and trying to find common ground more in his relationship with Congress. He has been criticized for his aloofness and reportedly alienated Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner by trying to make last-minute changes to a deal on raising the debt ceiling last year after they had agreed to the basic deal.
Now Obama will have to deal with Boehner again as they try to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” of tax raises and huge automatic spending cuts that will be triggered at the end of the year if they don’t agree to a new deficit-reduction plan to avoid them. Many feel that if they do not agree on a new plan, the United States is likely headed for another recession.
During this year’s presidential campaign, Obama utilized former president Bill Clinton to help him gain votes. We suggest he do so again to help in negotiations with Congress for a responsible budget bill that reduces the deficit and is as fair as possible to everyone.
Clinton has experience in dealing with congressional leaders of the opposite party in similar situations. After Clinton’s first two years in office, both houses of Congress were controlled by Republicans. Yet he and the Republican Congress managed to produce budgets that produced the first federal budget surpluses since 1969 for fiscal years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
We would suggest that both sides begin their negotiations based on the plan crafted by the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That would include some cuts in defense spending, which co-chair Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator, noted is “higher than the next 17 nations combined.” They include China, Russia, Great Britain, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, South Korea, Turkey and others.
So despite many Republicans’ complaints to the contrary in the recent election campaign, we believe Simpson is correct when he says he and Bowles’ proposed cuts in defense spending “aren’t going to hurt the military.”
Slightly increasing the percentages of larger incomes that are taxed for Social Security is another worthwhile recommendation of the Bowles-Simpson report that Congress and the President should consider.
No politician wanted to raise any taxes while they were campaigning. But some additional sources of revenue are needed to get rid of the deficit and reduce the current national debt. Now that the election is over, we hope politicians from both parties will find the guts to reach some responsible agreements in this area.
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