Lincoln's approach

EDITOR: If you've seen "Lincoln," you can guess what strategies Abraham Lincoln would use to break up today's sequester logjam and cure the kick-the-can-down-the-road syndrome. He would frame his version of an authentic compromise and call together a small group of Democratic congressional leaders to reframe the question and negotiate acceptable forms and limits to compromise, including modernization of popular programs such as Medicare. Next would come the more challenging negotiation sessions with Republican leaders and the full Senate and House, including some Grover Norquist no-new-taxes and Progressive don't-touch-a-penny-of-my-Medicare pledge signers.

During these talks, negotiator-in-chief Daniel Day Obama would push his team toward the goal line. In a memorable scene from the movie, President Lincoln demands help implementing the compromise — now. Tommy Lee Jones' character embodies the nature of the compromise: He relinquished his vision of "human equality" for "equality under the law." Can the present problem be similarly reframed?

OK, Daniel Day Lewis may be too busy admiring his Oscar to play Obama or Boehner, but there must be leaders from both sides of the aisle who are ready to take the necessary political risks to get their country out of this quagmire.


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