100 in Congress sign letter that puts country before party

This editorial first appeared in the Anchorage Daily News:

All right, maybe it’s no more than a gesture, a chance for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to be statesmanlike in style with no price to pay in substance.

But a letter signed by 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans — including Alaska Rep. Don Young — urges the “supercommittee” on deficit reduction to temper campaign calculations and ideological bents to come up with a workable solution.

In other words, some programs will be cut. Some taxes will go up. Don’t recoil in horror. Do what the citizens pay you to do and figure how to make it work for the common good.

The 100 Congress members also echoed other bipartisan recommendations for the 12 members of the deficit reduction committee to go well beyond their mandate to $1.2 trillion over the federal deficit over 10 years. Try $4 trillion, they urged, a number some economists say is necessary to make a real difference — and perhaps rekindle hope in this economy. Tall order, especially if you’re trying to fill that order with fairness and care.

The supercommittee doesn’t have much time left. By Thanksgiving, they either come up with a plan or automatic, across-the-board cuts begin to take effect. Even if they do come up with a package of cuts and revenue, both the full House and Senate have to approve it before Christmas, or again, the “Plan B” cuts kick in.

A dash of hope would be welcome at Thanksgiving tables. Recent news isn’t encouraging — more Americans in deeper poverty, economic forecasts flat at best, scant faith in our institutions and our leaders.

But the lawmakers’ letter is a little light in the darkness, as much for its mix of signers as for its message. Moderates are there, but also some staunch members of the right and left who have come to the realistic conclusion that everyone will have to contribute something to a recovery.

Let’s hope this letter has legs.

There’s hope in the message from 100 lawmakers — and in their political range.


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