EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 25, 2013

Column: Compromise needed to address budget challenges

Annie Kuster
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — With all the bickering and dysfunction in Congress, it’s easy to lose sight of the common ground that exists between Republicans and Democrats. Yes, we have real differences. Yes, we disagree on some important issues. But there are plenty of areas where we do agree.

We agree on the need to reduce the deficit and aggressively root out wasteful spending. We agree on the need to reform our tax code to encourage growth and generate revenue. We agree on the need to foster a business climate that spurs innovation and job creation. We agree on the need to reduce health care costs and honor the commitments we’ve made to our seniors.

Moreover, we know that progress on these issues will ultimately require the support of both parties. That’s why, from my first days in office, I have consistently called on Republicans and Democrats to work together on a balanced, bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and help create jobs — while protecting seniors and middle-class families.

And yet time and again, Congress has proven unwilling or unable to get the job done. We saw a perfect example this week when the House debated budget proposals for the coming fiscal year.

Instead of working together on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, both parties proposed competing budgets that had no chance of earning broad, bipartisan support. The Republican plan didn’t receive a single Democratic vote. The Democratic plan didn’t receive a single Republican vote.

And so the process ended right where it began — with our country no closer to the type of responsible compromise we all know is needed to meaningfully address our fiscal challenges and put Granite Staters back to work.

In the end, I couldn’t support these plans because they didn’t reflect the type of compromise that New Hampshire families expect from their leaders — and that they practice every day in their own lives.

Voters didn’t send us to Washington to talk about proposals that everyone knows are going nowhere, and then dust off our hands as if our work is done. They sent us here to roll up our sleeves, find common ground, and start working together to actually solve problems.

That’s why I helped establish a new group in Congress called the United Solutions Caucus. We’re a coalition of Republicans and Democrats — all new representatives, all focused on common sense solutions, all committed to working together to address our nation’s fiscal challenges.

None of us expects to agree on everything. But we’re also not willing to let the things we disagree on prevent us from making progress on the things we do agree on.

In February, we came together and outlined a framework for addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges that’s focused on common sense principles, such as:

Strengthening and preserving Medicare and Social Security, and addressing the rising health-care costs that threaten our entire health-care system.

Reforming our tax code by eliminating excessive corporate subsidies, closing loopholes, and lowering rates to encourage growth and generate revenue.

Cutting spending in a balanced way that protects investments that are critical to our nation’s future, including education, job training, and scientific research.

Identifying efficiencies and consolidations across federal agencies to make government more responsive and cost-effective.

Aggressively cracking down on fraud, waste, and abuse across government.

These are the kinds of common sense principles that should form the basis of a balanced, responsible plan to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and help create jobs — while protecting seniors and middle-class families.

If both parties work together and compromise, there is no reason we can’t reach that type of balanced agreement.

That’s the approach I believe is in the best interests of all Granite Staters, and it’s the approach I will continue to stand up for every day I have the privilege of serving the people of New Hampshire in Congress.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-Hopkinton, represents New Hampshire’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.