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home : opinions : commentary May 25, 2016

12/29/2011 1:07:00 PM
Commentary: Congress needs to find its resolve in 2012
By Gretchen Hamel
Executive Director of Public Notice

As we close out 2011 and turn our attention to the arrival of 2012, many of us are taking this opportunity to set new goals for the coming year.

To succeed, most New Year’s resolutions boil down to making a commitment to change and having the willpower to stick to it. Which makes me think that maybe we should help our leaders in Washington, D.C., to make a few resolutions of their own.

After all, their desultory and undisciplined approach to governing in 2011 has left us all worse off, with a $15 trillion national debt, federal budget deficits as far as the eye can see, and a dysfunctional culture in the nation’s capital that can’t get anything done. It shows in their approval ratings: a recent Gallup poll revealed that fully 86 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing -- an all-time low for Congressional approval.

So with the hope of making 2012 a better year for all of us, here are three resolutions we’d like to see Congress take up, based on some of the most popular goals that people set for themselves each year:

• Get organized: For you, that might mean getting your desk or closets in order. For Congress, it means getting their affairs in order, which starts with making and sticking to a budget. You might be surprised to learn that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in over two years, although they’re required by law to do so. For 2012, they need to kick things off right by developing a spending plan and sticking to it.

• Get a handle on your debt and spending: In your house, that might mean paying off credit cards and cutting wasteful spending. In the nation’s capital, it means getting serious about tackling the budget deficit by focusing on reforming the major categories of federal spending: defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Leaders in Washington need to recognize they’re not spending their own money, and they need to prove they can be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.

• Slim down and get fit: You might be looking to trim down in the new year so you can be at your best. For Washington, a focus on getting the U.S. back into fighting shape, by making sure we’re competitive on the global stage, is essential. This means not only tackling debt and spending, as discussed above, but also focusing on fair, competitive tax rates and eliminating regulations and red tape -- all of which have been shown to slow hiring and stifle economic growth.

Will sticking to those resolutions be easy? No. It’s going to take a whole lot of that aforementioned commitment and willpower to follow through. On top of that, what promises to be a feisty and contentious election season for both the president and the Congress will probably make reaching these goals an even greater challenge.

But the costs of failing to stick to these resolutions will be much greater if Washington’s lack of responsibility continues to drag us further down a fiscal hole of too much spending and too much debt. It’s time for leadership to get their priorities straight and set things right.

In fact, if our leaders in Washington aren’t careful, they may be taking on another popular resolution come November: “Find a new job.” Who knows? That might be all the motivation that some of our elected officials need to find their resolve.

Gretchen Hamel is Executive Director of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Article comment by: Maggie Holt

Interesting observation, Blm Blm, because the one before it accomplished so much. This paper published a partial list just a few days ago--he led a team and asked them to do their jobs. Enough of them did that they were able to accomplish more than any Republican or Tea Partier wants to believe and certainly doesn't want to admit.

There's a totally nonPC way to look at the Obama administration that has to do with cleaning up, but I'd probably be run out of town on the proverbial rail if I mentioned it, so I won't.

Suffice it to say that Obama has been very successful after all, and that's a hard pill for a lot of folks to swallow.

Posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012
Article comment by: Blm Blm

The worst house in USA history. Time to clean house Independent voters.

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011
Article comment by: Blm Blm

I will not cast a vote for ANY republican at city, county, state or federal level as long as they continue to disgrace America with their shameful political tactics against middle america, trash the earth, start war for profits, and let special interest control them. NOBODY in the clown car gets my vote. BUT there is one republican named Buddy Roemer who should run as an Independent. Check him out. Otherwise VOTE FOR OBAMA 2012

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011
Article comment by: Put the blame where it Belongs

The Republican let House did pass a budget for FY 2012 but the Democrated let Senate refused to bring it up for a vote. The President proposed a budget for FY 2012 and the Senate defeated it 97 to 0. It looks like the main problem is with a Senate led by Harry Reid.

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2011
Article comment by: Peter, Yavapai County

Congress is letting us all down by refusing to do their job. Their main job (which we hired them to do) is to responsibly spend our tax revenue. They have failed to provide the President with a budget to sign and so we get to be treated to an ongoing game of budget "chicken". By not doing their job, the national debt continues to increase while the nation's debt rating decreases. This is NOT good for business.

The Tea Party Republicans were elected to balance the budget and decrease the debt. Because of their success in the midterm election, Republicans control the House of Representatives. But they haven't done anything to reduce the deficit or the debt. Fire them!

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