- Cullman, Alabama


November 20, 2012

EDITORIAL: They can work it out

CULLMAN — President Obama’s convincing return to the presidency is being perceived by some lawmakers in the Democratic Party as  the people’s blessing to hold the course on government spending and entitlement programs. But election results can be misleading for the most fanatical members of either political party.

Even President Obama has viewed he re-election as more of a call for him to work closer with both parties in reaching some long overdue agreements in Congress. At stake is the financial health of the nation.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who declared himself a socialist in a recent Associated Press story, is one of the grim examples of what is wrong in Washington. Latching on to the presidential election results, Sanders said, “We won,” and that a loud message was going to the president, the House and the Senate not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

Rooted in Sanders’ rhetoric is the fact that heated political campaigns leave a lot of misconceptions where truth and fiction are concerned. Most people in Congress, along with their constituents, don’t want to cut the three notable entitlement programs, but pretending that everything will be OK is a recipe for financial disaster. Maintaining these programs will require some tightening and a shot of new revenue in the coming years. The federal government’s knack for spending beyond its means has led to a critical situation and everyone should be willing to compromise to ensure the continued health of the nation.

The federal government works best for the people when both parties are heard and contribute to solutions. Sanders can stand in a room by himself and declare victory, but the real message of the voters is to work together. That simply means appreciating both points of view and compromising for the sake of the union.

Extremists in both parties have ground effective government to a halt in Washington. Surely there are enough leaders — Republican and Democrat — who see the need to override nonsense and accomplish something of value in Congress.

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