EDITOR: I have followed news reports about the government shutting down because the two houses of Congress can't, or won't, work out their differences. It worries me. And then, looming on the horizon, is the debt ceiling. As that debate begins, or should I say continues, I think we should consider quotes taken from a Senate floor speech delivered on March 16, 2006:
• “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies.”
• “Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
The person who said this was a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. The entire speech can be read at www.snopes.com/politics/obama/debtlimit.asp
I sincerely hope that the president, and both houses of Congress, will think about these words of wisdom when they consider raising the debt ceiling.
EDITOR: The Republican congressional leadership has been calling on President Barack Obama to negotiate to break the government shutdown stalemate. What is mostly overlooked is the fact that the Affordable Care Act as it exists now is the result of lengthy negotiations, with several important provisions, such as the public option, having been eliminated. In other words, we already negotiated.
However, there's always room for more negotiation. My brother created this list of ideas, which I believe the Democratic leadership should offer as negotiating points. In exchange for a one-year delay in implementing the individual mandate, we want:
• Public campaign financing only for every election.
• Gun control, including testing, licensing and tracking, just as we do with cars.
• Progressive tax rates equal to those in effect during the Eisenhower administration.
• Re-institution of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had stabilized the banking system after the Great Depression.
• A massive federal program, comparable to the Manhattan Project, to develop and implement alternative energy sources.
These modest proposals provide fertile area for negotiating. Normal operation of the government shouldn't be held hostage to ideology. But if it is, let's include my ideology, too.