Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 29, 2013

Time to solve budget crisis

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Everyone seems to agree that it’s long past time for our nation’s leaders to come up with a plan to remedy the massive tax increases and spending cuts that were part of the “sequester,” which took effect early this year.

We agree, that is, until we start talking specifics.

A coalition of business groups, for example, says it’s all for cutting spending, but it says raising tax rates is out of the question.

The homebuilding industry wants a deal, too, but it says it won’t tolerate even a small drop in the mortgage interest deduction, even as part of a broad, spread-the-pain package designed to tame the soaring debt.

And the American Association of Retired Persons says it’s absolutely against any cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The organization opposes the notion of slowing the cost-of-living formula for Social Security recipients, even if it’s part of a big, bipartisan compromise, and it says President Barack Obama ought to forget about the idea of raising Medicare’s eligibility age.

So much for the notion of shared sacrifice.

We all agree on the wisdom of compromise when we’re talking in the abstract, but when the talk turns to specific ideas that run counter to philosophies or bottom lines, we get a little less flexible.

Maybe it’s just too early to start thinking about making a true, “grand bargain” deficit deal.

“If we focus on some big, grand bargain then we’re going to focus on our differences, and both sides are going to require that the other side compromises some core principle and then we’ll get nothing done,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who chairs the House Budget Committee, The Washington Post reported.

“[Republicans] have their mind set on doing nothing, nothing more on revenue, and until they get off that kick, there’s not going to be a grand bargain,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told KNPR last week. “We’re just going to have to do something to work our way through sequestration.”

It’s time to find a solution to our national debt, and neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to engage in the give-and-take required of such a remedy.