YAKIMA, Wash., December 29, 2012 — The reaction to the failure of President Obama and House Speaker Boehner to come to terms last week and avert the fiscal cliff is astonishing; in fact, unbelievable.
Here is a quote from a reader of this column: “It is indeed amazing that the President would abandon Washington, cutting himself off without a phone, or any way to contact other parts of the government, or any way to discharge the duties of his office!”
Is this writer really believe what he wrote? How can someone not know the President is in almost instant communication with anyone in the world? One thing we learn from reading Abraham Lincoln is, don’t embarrass your opponent; therefore, the writer of that ridiculous quote shall remain nameless.
Many of last week’s commenters criticized the President for going on vacation during the fiscal negotiations, but failed to mention that most of the Senate and the House left Washington before the President, including Boehner. Apparently they expected the President to negotiate with … whom?
I was heartened by the fact that buried deep within my comments section there were some intelligent remarks, although I found it difficult to support many of them.
I agree with one writer’s comment, “If our outgo exceeds our income, our upkeep will be our downfall”; point taken and supported. Even the comment that our system of debt has enslaved us rings true. One might add that our system of welfare has added to our system of enslavement. And, I agree we must change the conversation about welfare. However, I don’t agree with the writer’s comment about lack of competition.
Competition is, and always has been, a basic foundation of our capitalist economy. It’s the reason we have made such extraordinary advances. It’s the reason for some of the world’s greatest discoveries. Additionally, it’s the reason for huge banks and corporations. It’s also the reason we need government involvement.
Government involvement is what keeps the playing field level. Government involvement is what stops both labor and business from gaining excess advantage over each other. It was government that saved the American auto industry, like it or not. It was government that saved our financial institutions. And, it is government that is helping our unemployed workers, our aged and infirmed population, and it’s trying to lead us out of this fiscal morass we are all caught in.
Yes, there are times when there’s too much government, but there are times when there’s too little government. This last Republican administration is a good example of too little government and of the government looking the wrong way at the wrong time. Allowing large firms to fail in our present day economy may look good on paper and in theory, but in the everyday world of living, it affects negatively far too many hard working Americans. There are times when bailouts are good.
Several readers commented on the lack of leadership by the President, which has been one of the main retorts of many Republicans. It would seem we are lacking a leader who can rise above the hullabaloo and bring the parties together, but it’s not that the President hasn’t tried. By training and by nature, the President is a builder of consensus.
His community organizing experience in Chicago has made him a leader who is goal directed and patient. Many people who support the President, most notably Doris Kerns Goodwin, have suggested he play more golf with his opposition. Or, invite to dinner at the White House the opposing parties, putting them together in a social setting that encourages a relaxed atmosphere, where people can get to know each other as human beings, not as adversaries.
Additionally, Goodwin suggests that the Obamas have more cultural events that would bring the opposing parties together. Frankly, I didn’t see her in the audience at the Kennedy Center Honors the other night, but I’ll look again.
So, what’s the answer? The President and the congressional leaders met Friday afternoon at the White House and pledged to work through the weekend, but outcome expectations are low. Not enough Republicans are ready to renounce their “no new taxes” pledge, which means the shadow of Grover Norquist is still very much hanging over the proceedings. And, while the Democrats have given some on spending reductions, perhaps they need to give a little more. Here’s a thought.
Is there a way to fire our Congress and elect people who know how to compromise?
One has to wonder how much that would reduce the budget …
Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Communities political section and the San Pedro News Pilot.
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