To Congressmen Joe Walsh and Bob Dold: I'm sure you're disappointed by your recent loss, but urge you to avoid the trap of acting the part of lame duck congressmen till the end of your term Jan. 21. With the budget sequestration looming Jan. 2, the stakes for Americans are too high.
The hallmark of the last two years of Congress has been one of partisan bickering and gridlock caused by unwillingness to compromise. But there is still time to move forward on a bipartisan budget compromise and end with a bright spot on an otherwise dismal Congressional term.
Three bipartisan, fundamentally similar, budget proposals have been drafted, all of which included far more spending cuts than tax increases. All have been laughed out of Congress in no small part because of a written pledge many Congressmen made to a lobbying group called Americans for Tax Reform, to oppose any and all legislation that in any way increased tax revenue.
A fourth budget is now being discussed in the Senate, which will in all likelihood, be similar to the first three. But immediately after the election, your leader, John Boehner already began posturing that the House is open to compromise, provided they don't actually have to compromise on the "no tax increase" pledge. However, your election loss frees you from the need to pander to some of your more extreme constituents and special interest groups.
So I encourage you to actively and vigorously support this next bipartisan budget proposal. Yes, it will be painful to everyone and no one will be entirely happy with the result. But take it from someone who has raised kids and been managing for some time: Not all negotiations end with "win-win" or even "win-lose." Sometimes the best available outcome is to spread the "lose-lose" as fairly and equitably as practical.