Opinion Pieces

Compromise key to fix crisis

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Washington, December 8, 2011 | comments
This column ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on December 7, 2011.  Click HERE to read it in the original format


Everyone, from the tea party to the Occupy Wall Street movement, knows Congress must get its economic house in order. We can talk about how we got into this mess, but that would not answer the question of how to get out of this mess.

Bipartisan actions dug this hole, and we need bipartisan agreement to dig out. Now, both parties must, together, create millions of jobs for Americans, pay down our debt and strengthen Medicare, Social Security and Veterans’ programs.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, we have seen vehement opposition to him at all costs, driving our government to the brink of collapse simply because some want to see the president fail. This is not about Obama, but about Americans without jobs and losing their homes.

Extremes have manifested themselves, turning “compromise” into a dirty word, with many members asking “what’s good for me” instead of “what’s good for the country.” This is not just a country of the far right or the far left. This is a country of all of us. It cannot be my way or your way; it must be our way.

To get out of our economic hole, we need compromise on spending cuts and revenue increases. Millionaires and billionaires must pay their fair share, and more money must circulate in middle- and lower-income levels. This increases spending, which increases demand, creating the jobs we so desperately need.

Remember our history: Our heroes, Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy, would argue fiercely but were able to find common ground on major issues such as taxes and spending, as did former President Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Our Founding Fathers had serious fights but were able to compromise. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were constantly at odds. Where would our nation be if they had not compromised?

I have served in Democratic and Republican majorities in the House. I served under Presidents Bush and Obama. I have learned to respect my colleagues — Republicans and Democrats — and listen to their concerns. And in every area of my work here in Congress, as well as my years in the Georgia Legislature, the key has been finding ways to build alliances and compromise.

Congress has a couple of weeks left to work together on critical issues: the payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits, Medicare payments to doctors.

All are vital right now. America is depending on us to deliver.
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