Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

December 14, 2011

Reducing the deficit will require skill

-- — The failure of the congressional supercommittee to reach an agreement on reducing the deficit was not just bad fiscal news. It was a significant failure of political leadership.

Not only did the committee move us one step closer to a genuine fiscal crisis, but also it put the dysfunction of Congress on full display.

It sent a signal to the American people – who overwhelmingly wanted to believe that common ground is still possible in a divided age – that partisan politics is stronger than the national interest. Failure robbed Americans of hope at a time when they desperately needed some.

Where do we go from here? We did learn some important lessons from the supercommittee’s many weeks of work.

An obvious one is how difficult it will be getting our fiscal house in order. The supercommittee proved that deficit reduction is hard on the substance and even harder on the politics.

The fact that its members could not salvage an agreement from their discussions, unlike special committees in the past, makes clear that it will take a supreme effort of political will to move the nation past this point.

A second, related lesson is that fixing the deficit will require politicians who can set aside the politics of the moment. The members of the special committee were unable and unwilling to do that. Some gave me the feeling that they wanted to defeat an agreement, not achieve one, and none seemed willing to go against their party priorities.

Supercommittee members did not strive for an agreement large enough to allow room for the necessary trade-offs to solve the problem, and in the end, they and congressional leaders seemed to calculate that they would pay a greater political price for reaching an agreement than for failing.

Meaningful progress on our fiscal problems will require skilled politicians at the highest level to roll up their sleeves and take a risk with their own political bases. The final lesson from the supercommittee’s failure is that it’s not about the numbers, it’s about political leadership. Our fiscal crisis is still with us. The issues that broke the committee’s back have not gone away.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Low college attainment puts Indiana at a disadvantage For many of us, the phrase Big 10 brings to mind the spirited competition that comes with college sports. It may make us think of rivalries on basketball courts and football fields that have endured decades, tied to our pride in an alma mater or fami

    July 15, 2014

  • New laws benefit Hoosier families The beginning of July has taken on new meaning since I first began serving as your state representative. Not only does it signify the start of a new month, it also represents when many new laws take effect in Indiana. As a continuous advocate for chi

    July 15, 2014

  • Overlooking state's working poor has economic costs The Pence administration is calling for a review of the Indiana tax code. The top goals are to simplify the code and to promote economic development. But another worthy goal, one that would boost the Indiana economy, is missing.First, if the governme

    July 11, 2014

  • Financial hardships mount for military families Days before the July 4th holiday, Holly Petraeus stood on the steps of the imposing Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis, in front of a bank of cameras, and made a plea to military families: Don’t let pride stand in the way of asking for help. It was

    July 11, 2014

  • I'm thankful for our veterans' sacrifices On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 11, 2014

  • St. Andrews supports food program Dear Editor,St. Andrews Health Campus and its employees are committed to compassionate care that extends well beyond the residents St. Andrews serves. Executive director Gwen Reverman and her staff demonstrate their enduring commitment to this princi

    July 11, 2014

  • Golf classic support appreciated Dear Editor, Oldenburg Academy's 23rd Annual Pro-Am Golf Classic Committee would like to thank the many businesses and individuals who supported our golf outing, especially our event sponsors, food sponsors, advertising buyers and gift donors, along

    July 3, 2014

  • July 4 is a day to cherish liberty My name is John Hosbrook, and I died 216 years ago. My family has asked me to take you on a tour of our Patriot Past. They said you might need a refresher since Twitter, texting and TV dance shows have made you a mite forgetful. Why was I selected fo

    July 3, 2014

  • Homegrown spirits return to state fair INDIANAPOLIS - Mark Webb is counting on patrons of the Indiana State Fair to be better behaved this summer than they were in 1946, when a celebratory post-war crowd almost trashed the place. The bad behavior of beer drinkers 68 years ago is what led

    July 3, 2014

  • A dozen colleges do the conference shuffle The most tenured coach at the University of Louisville might not find joining a new athletic conference so special. But for tennis coach Rex Ecarma, the Cardinals’ move is a moment to celebrate.Ecarma has been at Louisville for 23 seasons, battling t

    July 3, 2014