Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 8, 2012

Time to govern

Obama and Congress must find solutions to problems

The Independent

ASHLAND — It’s over. The long, often negative campaigns for president by Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney ended early Wednesday morning with both candidates agreeing President Obama had been elected to a second, four-year term. The race was every bit as close as many had predicted it would be, but when all was said and done, the people in a deeply divided nation had spoken by choosing Obama. So be it.

What now? Our hope is people of all political persuasions in this un-united United States of America will put aside politics and concentrate on governing this nation. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time for politicking and a time for governing. The time for politicking ended when the final votes were cast Tuesday. The time for governing is now.

For at least the past two years, our national government has been largely dysfunctional. Congress has been so inept members have not even been able to enact a budget, their most basic and important job. Members of both parties have been so busy playing politics they have been unable to address any of the major problems facing this country. As a result, instead of moving forward this nation has been treading water, and we can only tread water for so long before we begin to sink.

This nation cannot afford another four years like the last four. Unless President Obama and Congress learn to work together for the good of the country and reach compromises, then our problems promise to only get worse.

What problems? Where shall we begin?

President Obama has promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his second term, although he has failed to offer a plan on exactly how he would do that. However, this country cannot afford to gush red ink like it has annually since George W. Bush became president in January 2001. While the nation had record deficit for seven of the eight years Bush was in office, the recklesss, irresponsible federal spending spree moved into high gear under President Obama’s leadership.

Can President Obama fulfill his promise of cutting the deficit in half in the next four years? Frankly, we have our doubts, but one thing is certain. He won’t be able to do it without the support of Congress, and a Congress that can’t even pass a budget is providing zero help in controlling spending.

President Obama has promised to cut the deficit by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but with Republicans remaining in control of the House of Representatives, that seems unlikely to happen. The president needs to sit own with House leaders to see just what both sides are willing to accept.

For what seems like eons, economists, presidents and members of Congress have been warning about the impending financial collapse of Medicare and of Social Security while doing nothing about it. That must change during President Obama’s second term, but while the president has been quick to criticize the plan offered by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, the president and other Democrats have yet to propose an alternative to Ryan’s plan. It is time to stop demogoguing this critical issue and start seeking workable solutions.

Attacking America’s immigration problems has been an issue in every presidential campaign in recent years, but despite all the talk, nothing is done. That needs to change, and that will require compromises.

President Obama and Congress can’t even wait until 2013 to display a new willingness to work together. Unless a deal is reached to reduce federal spending in a responsible way, automatic cuts in spending will occur at the end of the year. Those cuts will particularly impact the U.S. military. The most irresponsible way to cut spending it to make automatic, across-the-board cuts. That’s about to happen, and it is up to President Obama  and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to take the steps to avoid those cuts.

 Frankly, we remain deeply concerned about the future of this country. The president has been re-elected with just slightly more that half of the people voting for him.

Yet, regardless of how you voted, Barack Obama will be president for all of us for the next four years. For those who supported him, we hope he proves to be everything they expect him to be. For those who voted for Mitt Romney, we hope Barack Obama proves to be a pleasant surprise during his second term.