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By Chase Sanders, Kernel columnist
Now that the election is over, it’s time for the politicians in Washington to get back to work after four years of stalemating.
The next big issues the president and Congress must tackle will be debt reduction and tax rates as they negotiate how the federal government will avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
The cliff is a spending cap put on government spending back in the summer of 2011 when a bargain agreement was met between GOP and Democrats in order to raise the country’s debt ceiling. The cap will go into affect on Jan. 1, 2013. It will bring $500 billion in Bush-era tax cuts and payroll tax holidays and $109 billion in automatic spending cuts in defense and domestic spending to an abrupt halt.
A lack of compromise between Democrats and Republicans on the issue will certainly thrust the economy back into a recession.
Leaders do not have time to be lackadaisical in their efforts to work together. If there isn’t cooperation between the partisan split House of Representatives and Senate to pass legislation that will prevent sequestration, then there will likely be major consequences for current college students’ job prospects.
According to a Congressional Budget Office report that was released on Nov. 8, unemployment rates will jump from 7.9 percent this year to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013 if government leaders do not come to an agreement on spending and taxes.
The key to success in solving the impending economic issue is bipartisanship in an effort to both reduce the national deficit and improve unemployment.
One way that can be accomplished is by raising taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans for revenue purposes. Even conservatives like political strategist and commentator Bill Kristol think that’s a good idea. This past Sunday, Kristol said, “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.”
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner recently said, “I remain optimistic that we can find common ground,” when he was discussing averting the fiscal cliff.
It sounds like the GOP is finally trying to turn an open ear to what the American people want. Exit polls from the Nov. 6 election reveal that 60 percent of voters said they are ready to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
President Obama is listening to the electorate, as well. Last Friday, when speaking about his strategy to solve fiscal cliff, he said the government’s “top priority has to be jobs and economic growth.” The president also said he wants a “balanced approach” to solving the ensuing problem. He also wants to immediately extend middle class tax cuts to “take a chunk of economic uncertainty off the table.” If that tax policy is renewed, it will protect tax rates for 98 percent of Americans. However, the bill has been sitting idle in Congress since it was passed by the Senate.
Passing that bill would be an easy and smart start to cooperation between political parties and saving the economic future of America. If the recent presidential election means anything after the past three years, it is that Americans are ready for their civil servants to start working together.
As they should.
Chase Sanders is a Kernel staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.