Long into deep darkness we have peered, fighting doubts beforeunfeared, until we dreamed dreams no mortal ever dreamed before.America has faced enormous challenges before but we persevered andbecame better for it.

We must believe in ourselves, our fellow citizens and in ourabilities. Some people see a crisis and say, Why? but I dream ofa better future and say, Why not?

We need to hold fast to a dream which is good for the nation andthe world. JFK never offered America a bunch of cheap promises;instead, he promised a bunch of challenges that would ask much ofAmerica. We will emerge from our economic crisis stronger than everif our political leaders work together.

Our nation is saddled with an obscene public debt and highmortgage debt which makes it difficult for the economy to completea recovery. The national debt must be reduced to a manageable levelof 50 or 60 percent of our GDP ($14.6 trillion annual value of allU.S. goods and services).

If the current debt were halved to approximately $7.3 trillion,it would free some of $2.16 trillion in annual revenue from debtservice to other important things. It would restore confidence inAmerica.

The president must bring Democrats and Republicans to the tableand negotiate a plan that the two sides can accept. Acceptance mustmean cooperation.

JFK said that we should never negotiate out of fear but neverfear to negotiate. Our political parties must adopt that idea. TheAmerican people must get involved in local and regional electionswhich normally go unnoticed to produce a connectedness that willassure the people tell the politicians that cooperation isdemanded.

Everyone must be willing to compromise in order to achieve agreater good for America. The nationalization of politics makes itdifficult for an individual to be heard, but we must telephone ande-mail congressional leaders and our representatives to let themknow that partisan intransigence is unacceptable.

The American people can become the most powerful lobby in thenation. It will take some work and some money but the stakes arehigh enough to merit the effort.

Michael Grimm stated he protected Medicare and Medicaid fromtruly catastrophic cuts during recent debt ceiling negotiations.He did not say that his Republican Party tried to eliminate theseprograms and replace them with a voucher payment system.

If Representative Grimm may claim the mantle of courageousleadership, he must lead his party to a fairer system of taxation.The wealthy must pay a fair share of income tax in the country.

Warren Buffet, the third richest man on the planet, stated thathis income tax burden at 17.4 percent is too low. Why areRepublicans unwilling to ask for fair taxation of wealthyindividuals while they are eager to ask for draconian costcutting?

A multi-year fiscal plan with increased income tax for wealthyindividuals and a means test for Social Security benefits willhelp our budget. Warren Buffett earned his Social Security benefit,but will he need the full allotment of it when he retires like hisgardener will?

Twelve hundred skilled workers are heroically laboring to makethe new World Trade Center rise at Ground Zero. If such a modestnumber of individuals can create so much, then 300 million peoplecan achieve any dream if they work together.

Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the Stateof New York and is a Democrat.

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