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Our View: Washington must reform politically

Posted: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.

It’s a new year, and with any new year we look for new beginnings, personally, professionally and within our government.

If there’s ever a year where we need a new beginning in Washington politics, it’s this year. Last year was one of the most difficult and dysfunctional years for our federal government. Nothing got accomplished except presidential and congressional campaigns ran their course among mudslinging and too much money.

Voters had their say in November. Whether you like the outcome or not, there seems to be a feeling throughout this country that there needs to be a change in Washington. The gridlock and extreme partisanship must stop on both sides. These sides need to talk with each other and come to agreement on things. Doing nothing is not acceptable anymore whatever your ideology happens to be.

The first test after the election was the “fiscal cliff.” After much wrangling and posturing and pushing the deadline right to the last minute there was an agreement — although it’s really just a temporary fix. We’re encouraged by the fact that at least some consensus was reached, but why did it take our lawmakers right up until the last minute to get a deal? They knew this was coming for months, but both sides postured until the deadline. Perhaps at that point they knew they would be roasted by their constituents if they just let the country go off the cliff.

It seems like members of Congress have gotten so caught up in their own ideologies and playing politics that they have lost sight of the fact that they have been elected to govern, not to just sit in Washington and play politics. Sometimes governing requires give and take.

The fact that there was a fiscal cliff agreement, although it is a stopgap agreement, gives hope that maybe Washington is changing — if only a little.

It’s better than the days of the Super Committee in 2011, which was formed to come up with a deficit reduction plan. That committee failed miserably as gridlock was at its height in our nation’s capital.

Perhaps the fiscal cliff deal can transcend into other deals throughout this year where politicians try to talk with each other and come up with solutions to problems.

But there are other immediate hurdles to overcome before we can say things are truly better in Washington. There’s another fiscal crisis in two months because the recent fiscal cliff bill postponed decisions on spending cuts until then. At that same time, the U.S. will hit its debt ceiling again and there will be a big decision on raising the ceiling again.

Will Congress take action again or just fight and do nothing? We hope it will do the former. We also hope that the little progress that was made in the past week will transcend into something more substantial as we move through 2013.


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