Campaign promises are easy; attacks on any plan to tackle the debt are even easier. Governing is tough. Coming together and making the tough calls necessary to implement any plan to avoid the impending fiscal disaster will be even harder.
If we are going to move forward, we need to agree on some foundational issues. First, we need buy-in from Democrats and Republicans — no meaningful debt reduction plan will be passed if it is seen as partisan.
Second, everything must be on the table. No one’s sacred cows can be ruled off limits before we even begin the discussion. The only way we can get bipartisan buy-in is if both sides agree that everything is on the table.
Third, we have to recognize that neither spending cuts nor tax increases alone will be able to tackle the mountain of debt we are staring at, which is why entitlement reform has to be a part of any comprehensive debt solution.
Fourth, and finally, we have to recognize that none of this occurs in a vacuum. Every decision about how best to reduce the deficit and the debt must be made with an eye toward our struggling economy. At the end of the day, we need to ensure that debt reduction doesn’t occur at the expense of American jobs.
The challenges are significant. We didn’t get into this debt crisis overnight, and we will not get out of it overnight. But by showing some real political courage and by working together, we can forge a comprehensive solution that will help us avert the fiscal cliff we face ahead of us.
Amo Houghton is a former nine-term Republican House Member from New York. Tom Davis is a former seven-term Republican House Member from Virginia.