MY VIEW: Jim Jones Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff: Nothing is Sacrosanct
Former Oklahoma 1st District Congressman and CRFB Board Member Jim Jones penned an op-ed in today's Tulsa World calling for policymakers to put everything on the table for a plan to replace the fiscal cliff. Many members of Congress have just come off tough races, but as we saw yesterday the leadership in both chambers appears to be looking for a compromise. Jones believes that compromise is both needed and possible given the tremendous fiscal challenges faced by our country.
For almost a decade and a half, I was honored to serve the great people of northeastern Oklahoma in Congress. Today, a centrist Democrat in Congress may be about as rare as a polar bear in northeastern Oklahoma, but through my experience as a fiscally-conservative Democrat on the Ways and Means and Budget Committees, I was able to see how much agreement there was between the two parties, and how deals can be struck when there's a common interest. Even in today's climate of hyper-polarization, this remains true, and even for this era's most important issue: the national debt.
Having hit $16 trillion with no signs of slowing, the national debt promises to eat away at your favorite government policy, regardless of your party or politics.
Whether you prefer to maintain spending levels on, say, transportation programs or scientific research, or you're more interested in keeping taxes low, your preferred policy is about to be swallowed up by what we need to pay to service our debt. Unless we act now.
And now really is the time to act. With the "fiscal cliff" - the club-footed combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, $500 billion in 2013 alone - looming come Jan. 1, our political leaders have been given a firm deadline to get something done.
It will not be easy though, Jones explains that the only way to solve this problem is by putting everything on the table.
Any deal worth the paper it's printed on must make sure to treat nothing as sacrosanct. Any promise made to keep a constituency's favored spending program or tax break is short-term thinking; unless we put everything on the table, we will never come close to plugging the hole we're in.
I've seen much agreement across party lines when it comes to fiscal issues. And I am optimistic that, even in this age of political polarization, that we'll be able to do so again.
The full piece can be found here.
"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.