GUEST COMMENTARY: Coats should vote yes on budget compromise

2013-12-17T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Coats should vote yes on budget compromiseBy John Mutz nwitimes.com
December 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After the government shutdown and threat of a federal default from a few months ago, it was extremely refreshing to see Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan lead the budget conference committee to a bipartisan compromise that resulted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. Their ability to find common ground in such trying political times is an example all members of Congress should strive to follow.

As a Hoosier, I respect that Sen. Dan Coats places a premium on fiscal responsibility. He understands a strong economy is vital if folks back here in Indiana are to lead successful, prosperous lives. And while the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 may not confront all of the country’s many fiscal challenges, it does return Congress to regular order and lay the foundation for future advancements that will help the country get back on a more stable fiscal ground.

This agreement sets spending levels for the next two fiscal years and virtually eliminates the prospect of another harmful government shutdown. And this deal offers relief from the damaging, across-the-board cuts from the sequester by replacing them with more long-term, permanent savings.

I can understand why Coats may have initially balked at this deal. It does not even attempt to address the country’s soaring national debt, our inefficient and outdated tax code, or our overly costly entitlement programs. To get the country’s economy back to where it was prior to the latest economic downturn, we must address the challenging issues.

But just because we did not tackle these problems right now doesn't mean we can’t do so in the near future. In fact, this deal proves tat we are capable of taking on these issues, albeit in a very limited manner. When lawmakers put their minds to it, they can hammer out a deal. Murray and Ryan spent the past few months finding common ground in a contentious political environment, and the country is better off because of it.

This was indeed a baby step, but a step nevertheless. As the old saying goes, you have to crawl before you can walk. It is now up to rest of Congress to build on consensus where it exists and strive to reach bipartisan compromise on the more challenging fiscal matters.

I have no doubt Coats will do what’s right for the country and vote “yes” on this bill. Senate Republicans have been at the forefront of efforts to get lawmakers to return to fiscal sanity over the past year, so I am certain this time will not be any different.

If the dysfunctional House of Representatives was able to pass this bill in a bipartisan manner, then surely the Senate can follow suit. 

As a member of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, I realize much hard work remains on this issue. But I also understand we are inching closer to a solution that puts an end to the fiscal madness.

I urge Coats to help pass this bill.

John Mutz, former Indiana lieutenant governor, is a member of the Indiana Chapter of the Campaign to Fix the Debt. The opinions are the writer's.

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