Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

Currently: 83° — Complete forecast

Sun Editorial:

Nation needs leaders who can get beyond their party and find solutions

Members of Congress have returned home this month for their annual summer recess, and many of them are holding town-hall meetings to talk to constituents. As The New York Times reported Friday, they are getting an earful.

Many people are decrying what they see happening in Washington, but they’re not necessarily calling for compromise when it comes to dealing with the nation’s debt. Instead, at many town-hall meetings — held by both Republicans and Democrats — voters have told their representatives to stick to their guns.

For example, in Utah, a 48-year-old man complained to Rep. Jason Chaffetz that his fellow Republicans were following Democrats to the left, “and I hate it when the party deserts me.”

In Minnesota, a 70-year-old man told Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that President Barack Obama was “almost a Republican. He’s just rolled over and rolled over and rolled over, and I hope that you, as a progressive, can somehow add some steel to his blood.”

However, town-hall meetings aren’t necessarily an accurate gauge of the country’s mood. In the House, where members are often elected in districts drawn to protect their electoral chances, a town-hall meeting may be little more than a partisan chorus. But it’s enough for some members of Congress, who think what they hear actually represents the overall views of their constituents.

That perception will only worsen the problems in Congress, which has been plagued by gridlock. There are too few moderates in Congress, much less people who will consider a compromise, and that’s especially notable among Republicans. Driven by the Tea Party, Republicans refused to compromise in the debate over raising the debt ceiling. They unnecessarily linked the debt ceiling to massive budget cuts and pushed the nation toward the brink of default.

It’s frightening to consider that type of thing may continue when they return from the break. They will land in Washington to pick up the debate over how to deal with the nation’s debt. Last week, congressional leaders named members to the 12-member committee that will make recommendations on debt reduction. They will face a daunting task given that all six Republicans have signed a no-new-taxes pledge, which has become an article of faith in the GOP.

That promises even more gridlock, and that’s not what people want. They want to see progress in Congress. Polls have shown that people want the nation to cut its debt, and they strongly support some mix of spending cuts and revenue increases — including a repeal of lucrative tax breaks to the rich that the Republicans have clung to.

The president has been clear in calling for cuts, entitlement reforms and revenue increases. He has reached out to Republicans only to be rebuffed time and again. Compromise has become a dirty word in Washington.

While they’ve been fighting in Washington, and the Republicans have blocked progress with their all-or-nothing ideology, the economy has continued to struggle. People are still hurting and they want help. They aren’t as concerned with ideological purity, as the Tea Party is, than they are about getting the economy going again.

The economy should not be held hostage by needless partisanship, and it will take great leadership to break the stalemate. Lawmakers will have to ignore the extremists and put aside their partisan differences and work for the good of everyone.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy