A Holiday Wish List for Congress

America needs Congress to get our country back on track.

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For many of us who give gifts at this time of year, the rituals put in perspective the differences between what we can afford, what we need, and what we want. Considering the nation is more than $16 trillion in debt and facing the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes, lawmakers need to concentrate on doing just what is needed.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

With that in mind, here's my suggested holiday wish list for Congress:

  1. Peace and harmony. We can't afford for the ideological differences between the political parties to paralyze us. Make a short term deal to prevent us from going over the fiscal cliff and set up the 113th Congress to succeed where the 112th Congress fell short. Here's a suggestion on how to do that.
  2. Fund only the defense we need. Every year, the defense budget is full of weapons and programs someone in Congress wants but that the Pentagon doesn't need or want. Leaders as diverse as former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright, and James Baker, along with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates say we can spend less on national security. And working with others, we at Taxpayers for Common Sense have provided a set of suggestions on where to cut defense spending. 
  3. Be good shepherd. The Farm Bill is one of the best examples of programs some people want, but we don't need right now. It is hard to argue that with farm country seeing record profits the last few years we need to continue to provide massive crop insurance subsidies and other subsidy programs for farmers. What we absolutely don't need is to have a trillion dollar farm bill shoe-horned into the last days of the 112th Congress.
  4. Listen to the wise men—and women. In the last two years, wise men and women from former Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to former Sen. Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin have laid out plans for long term restructuring of our budget and reduction of our debt. It's time to listen to those ideas and set the stage for solving our fiscal problems.
  5. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The tax code is riddled with loopholes and breaks that total more than $1 trillion in forgone revenue every year. It's time for lawmakers give taxpayers the gift of flatter, simpler, and fairer tax code that eliminates most of the breaks and generates the revenue to fund the government we need.
  6. [See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

    We know that Congress will be back at work even as many of us our enjoying time off with our families and we hope that each and every one of them can work in the spirit of the season and help get the country on track for a brighter fiscal future. That's what America needs.

    • Read David Brodwin: Why We Need the Government in the Marketplace
    • Read Mike Whalen: Not a Merry Christmas for Small Business With the Fiscal Cliff
    • Check out U.S. News Weekly: An insider's guide to politics and policy.