Once again we find ourselves in agreement with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. This time it is regarding his call for the U.S. Senate to act responsibly and reconvene to straighten out the legislative mess over extending payroll tax cuts and other spending provisions set to expire at the end of the year. As of late Thursday, it appears Congress will act to end the stalemate by amending the House version to agree with the Senate bill.
Corker called for the Senate to reconvene and take its bill and the U.S. House bill into a conference session to work out differences and pass legislation both houses of Congress can agree on. Anything less opens the door to additional financial chaos just when the nation's economy is beginning to show signs of life. The last thing the economy needs right now is a tax increase on average Americans. The temporary spending measure also would extend unemployment benefits and avoid a 27 percent cut in physician payments from Medicare.
Average Americans are weary of the legislative partisan brinkmanship and gridlock in Washington. It threatens to damage the nation's fragile economy and has left Congress with the lowest public approval ratings in a century.
We also agree with Corker's acknowledgment that his call for compromise does not represent agreement with any of the spending extensions. Rather, he is calling for long-term solutions, not the makeshift patchwork of monthly and yearly extensions many people in both parties know are unsustainable and don't address the nation's fiscal problems.
When two sides cannot find common ground to solve problems they both agree need to be solved, we call that dysfunctional. And that is what Corker repeatedly has called the atmosphere in Washington.
Almost everyone agrees that the nation's annual spending deficit and enormous, burgeoning national debt is unsustainable, harmful to our nation's international leadership status, potentially destabilizing to the world economy and dangerous for our democracy. Our failure to address these issues with bipartisan long-term solutions is irresponsible. Even with a recovered economy, it will take years, perhaps decades, to restore fiscal sanity and stability to our nation's and the world's economies. How is it that our congressional leadership can't see these things? Is Corker the only member of Congress who understands the seriousness of the problem and has the courage to demand responsible leadership and action?
Both bodies still must act to end the stalemate. We are hopeful that calmer heads will prevail. More important, we hope that a vote today will set the stage for Congress to negotiate real solutions. It is past time to stop playing partisan games and pass legislation that includes long-term remedies to the nation's spending problems.