By Judd Gregg - 02/07/11 05:46 AM EST
November’s election was definitive. The American people sent as focused a message as this country has seen in decades. It was simple: Stop the spending, address the deficit and do something about the debt. Do not pass on to our children a nation that is less prosperous and thus less secure than we have had.
How do you do all this? It is also simple. Let’s try governing.
We all realize it is easier to shout. Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, they are good shouters. It certainly gets great ratings and reflects a good capitalist spirit by driving advertising. Nothing like hyperbole to attract attention.
The only way to reduce the spending, manage the deficits and get this suffocating debt under some semblance of control is to govern. For the last two years we had a parliamentary system, government by supermajorities on the left who did not need nor countenance input from the rest of America. It failed miserably, in large part because the party of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) missed most of the country that was to the right of San Francisco.
Now those supermajorities are gone, spiked by their own excesses. And the American people have called for a correction. A correction based in the common sense of the American breakfast table. Stop spending what we don’t have, and stop sending our kids the bills.
To do this, however, to fulfill the call of the last election, requires the Congress and president to govern. This much must be obvious. And one other thing should be obvious. To govern in a divided government, the two parties must agree. It is called bipartisanship, a word not allowed in the lexicon of the shouters, but a concept that is essential to making any progress on these critical issues that determine the vitality of the nation.
We are now at $14 trillion in national debt, and counting very fast. We are adding $56,000 in debt every second (the same amount as the annual income of the average American family). We cannot afford the shouters. The inaction that flows from their echo will only drive the debt up. We need action, now, by this Congress, in this session, that is real, not messaging, and that can be executed on.
Here are seven easy steps that this Congress should work on that can lead to real action and that the president should be able to buy into, maybe even take credit for.
• Have an energy policy that has as its main purpose to stop exporting $300 billion of capital overseas to people who do not like us and which we need here to make us a stronger nation;
• Reform the tax laws by making them simpler, fairer, more progressive and with dramatically lower rates and a bias toward keeping companies in the United States and creating incentives to create jobs;
• Fix the immigration laws so we encourage smart, talented people to come here and create jobs and thus generate economic activity, which in turn generates tax revenue;
• Reduce discretionary spending by 2 percent a year for the next five years;
• Change the healthcare system to reward outcomes and quality instead of utilization and fraud;
• Protect American intellectual property;
• Fix Social Security so it is solvent, a simple exercise that just requires bipartisan leadership.
Govern. The American people will like it.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and also as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations