We the People: Week of November 15

The people of our great republic have spoken, and it’s time to push aside our differences and work together to address the most serious issues facing the nation.

The $16 trillion federal debt is a striking reminder of what happens when our leaders fail to deal with serious issues. President Obama, House Speaker Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Reid all have a share of responsibility if we fall off the fiscal cliff in January.

Senator Reid announced that Social Security will not be discussed during negotiations. While Social Security should be protected, it must be discussed during fiscal negotiation since it is the largest item in our budget. You cannot seriously address the debt, the deficit or the economy when you set a ground rule that excludes discussion of the largest item in the budget.

The President has been given four more years to guide our nation toward a fiscally responsible path. He must demand a simple and straightforward proposal from Reid to reduce spending and increase tax revenue so that we can close the budget deficit and reduce the debt.

Although Reid seems like he ended the negotiations before they started, there are hints that Reid and Boehner have left the door open to strike a deal before January 1, 2013.

If the Bush tax cuts were extended for workers earning $500,000 a year and spending reductions spread over all programs, we could avoid barreling toward disaster again. If the stock market melts down or our credit rating is lowered again, it is time for all members of Congress to look for new employment.

Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, defense spending and interest payment on the debt are the largest items in our budget. These budget items also provide employment to workers, contractors, doctors, bond traders and civil servants. These items cannot be slashed overnight without regard to the effect reductions would have on the economy.

Republicans advocate Social Security reform based on reducing benefits dispensed. Democrats advocate reform based on increasing tax revenues. This is the time for a bold and innovative approach. Why can’t we consider a bit of both reforms?

A means test for Social Security benefits would reduce spending. Does Warren Buffett really need his Social Security stipend to survive? The FICA tax could be extended to big wage earners. It is ridiculous that a young professional will pay the same amount of Social Security tax from his salary as Donald Trump pays from his earnings.

Immigrations reform with an equitable path to citizenship for workers who have paid taxes and raised families in the U.S. would bolster the Social Security system, too. There must be a way for deserving candidates to earn citizenship and become full members of the society in which they live.

President Obama has four years to work toward fiscal reform. The key to a resolution of the current fiscal crisis is Representative Boehner and the Republican majority in the House.

Our leaders have no excuse if it is not resolved quickly. We need to show the world that we can be responsible and reasonable without standing on the brink of an abyss.

On Veteran’s Day, don’t forget our armed forces and veterans who sacrificed so we can live free.

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