Public wants balance

Congress has less than a week to reach an agreement that would allow the federal government to continue paying its bills.

At this late hour, chances for a "grand" bargain that would stabilize the nation's finances for the long term by using a mix of deep spending cuts and modest new revenues are almost nil.

At best, it looks as if Congress will instead produce a short-term fix, which allows this disruptive and economically destabilizing political fight to drag on.

The persistent uncertainty over whether the government can pay its debt and other bills has placed in jeopardy the world's best credit rating and threatens to drag down the economy by raising interest rates. Those higher rates will act as a tax increase by driving up what Americans pay for mortgages, car loans and credit cards.

This is not a case where a neutral observer might fairly say, "A pox on both houses of politicians." Primary responsibility for the gridlock must be placed at the feet of the Republicans running the House. They adamantly refuse to consider the balanced solution — a mix of mostly spending cuts, with some modest new revenues — that the public resoundingly supports.

CNN's latest poll on the question, for example, shows that 64 percent of respondents support ending the debt-payment crisis with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. Only 34 percent preferred spending cuts only. And the CNN poll is hardly an outlier. Polls by Gallup and others consistently show similar support for a mix of significant spending cuts and some additional revenue.

That's the solution President Obama has supported, even though it would require him to go against his political base to round up Democratic support for serious spending cuts. Senate leaders in both parties have taken constructive steps toward a solution. But they lack a willing Republican partner in the Republican-controlled House.

House Republicans refuse to consider any solution that includes more revenues. To them, it's their way or the highway. But by refusing to budge on this most urgent issue, House Republicans are disrespecting the Constitution's checks and balances. They are acting as if the last election gave them alone the authority to dictate the outcome for the entire nation.

In fact, the American people duly elected people from the other party to run the Senate and presidency.

The country's founding fathers purposely created the possibility of divided government such as we have now. They wanted to moderate the influence of extreme factions, which, unfortunately, is exactly the situation the country finds itself in today.

As our country's founders wisely envisioned, the solution to today's political struggles over the nation's finances requires give-and-take. Right now, though, what the nation is seeing from the House Republicans is all take.

If next week's predicted cataclysm is not avoided, or is merely postponed, it should be clear to voters whom to blame.

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