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After decades of impasse, lawmakers seem ready to move forward with bipartisan immigration reform. Gun-control legislation seems possible. There is even bipartisan support for many elements of tax reform. President Obama should foster such bipartisan cooperation while the political moment remains, working with Congress to build trust, bridge divides, and usher in needed reform.
Budget issues loom large, and Congress needs to act. If Congress and the president can succeed on areas where consensus is already beginning to build, such actions would offer real hope that leaders in both parties could honestly and constructively work together to find long-term solutions for compounding fiscal problems.
The current political climate calls for leaders who can release legislative logjams, rise above partisan finger pointing, convince policymakers to make hard decisions, and model a better way. Barack Obama has the opportunity to be such a leader, but last night’s speech offered little evidence that the president will chart such a path in his second term.
Promising the world with no explanation of how to pay for it is irresponsible. Both parties have followed this path for too many years, and the result is massive deficits and spiraling debt. At a time of bitter partisan resentment and declining trust in government, the nation needs honest talk and genuine calls for shared sacrifice. We need statesmanship, not more politics as usual.