Last week, the Republicans won the House and gained much strength in the Senate. Rather than seeing this as the next partisan confrontation, President Obama should strive to find common ground with at least some in the GOP:
• Simplifying the tax code: Let’s get rid of nearly all tax breaks and loopholes. Sure, there’s a vocal constituency behind every such perk in the tax code. But taken together, the code is unnecessarily burdensome to our economy. We hire more accountants and lawyers because of it. Simplifying the code will help small businesses and families alike. Talk about economic stimulus.
• Deal with Social Security and Medicare: These are immensely popular programs; even so called small-government tea partiers support them. But these programs are on an unsustainable fiscal path. One possible way to deal with this coming nightmare is to means-test the programs. The wealthy don’t need them, and we should end such assistance for them. Of course, many will cry out that people paid into these programs for years. True, but we think Social Security and Medicare should be seen as part of the safety net that is there when you need it. Cutting the rich from these programs would save much money.
• Cut spending and raise taxes: Both Democrats and Republicans have a problem. They both love hiking spending and cutting taxes. But the federal government has a budget deficit that’s over a trillion dollars. Politicians love to avoid the issue, but there are just two ways to wipe out this shortfall: Cutting spending and raising taxes. The Republicans, the supposed small-government party, couldn’t cut spending when they were in control of the government a few years ago. So both parties should get together and make the tough decisions, not pass the buck to the next Congress.
• Pass comprehensive immigration reform: Members of both parties want to pass such legislation, but they haven’t been successful. On one hand, we benefit from the labor that immigrants, mainly Mexicans, provide in the form of lower-priced goods and services. On the other hand, many of us bellyache about the growth in the immigrant population. Let’s enact a law that ensures labor needs are met yet improves border security.
We heard in the campaigns about how Republicans and Democrats differ. But that does us no good when it comes to governing. We need our leaders to find common ground.