Congress’ New Glasses

Neither Democrats or Republicans can see the big policy picture.

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Think about this: Republicans are far sighted and Democrats are near sighted.

What do I mean? Republicans can't see what is right before them; they can't see the implications of their immediate actions as destructive to the economy; they can't put in focus what is right up close. They fail to realize that the ranting, raving and raging about Obamacare, the debt ceiling and threats to shut down the government are tanking the economy. Their eyes are way down the road. They are focused on 20-30 years into the future.

Democrats are near sighted. They get the implications of the immediate, but they fail to see down the road. Or they fail to act on it. They fail to put in focus and perspective what is far out in front – the long term debts, the necessity of reforming entitlements, the importance of putting corrective lenses on so they can make the right choices on navigating the future. No, it isn't easy, and they will be called "four eyes" by some in their own party, but it is time to make the hard choices.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

I believe so strongly that everything we are going through now with budgets, continuing resolutions, health care and raising the debt ceiling is all a dangerous and destructive side show. Nothing good is coming of this. Republican extremists are making utter fools of themselves and Democrats are sitting back watching it all unfold.

But here is the problem. Paralysis benefits no one in the end. Democrats should be initiating precisely the kinds of discussions that almost led to a grand bargain a few years ago. They should rise above this – and work the problem.

Republican leaders should talk turkey with their cuckoo caucus and tell them to zip it. Let's get on with solving the nation's problems; what we are doing now is exacerbating those problems.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

It is time for both the "near sighted caucus" and the "far sighted caucus" to recognize that the path to a stable, predictable, reasonable solution rests with their ability to compromise on an agreement that trims government and entitlements, raises revenue, takes on some sacred cows and makes everybody angry. If the AARP isn't furious, if the labor unions aren't mad, if the tea party isn't tearing its hair out and the Club for Growth isn't crying "betrayal," then the two parties haven't done their job.

Off the table are issues like extending the debt ceiling and failing to approve budgets, voting over and over on Obamacare, slicing and dicing programs just to make a political point.

This is what the grand bargain should be all about and what should move us away from the constant brinkmanship, the vitriol, the political hardball.

Maybe the parties would end up with a nice set of reading glasses to see up close and handsome spectacles to see far away. In technical terms, from your friendly optometrist and ophthalmologist, we'd be curing the myopia and the hyperopia. 

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