The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 23, 2013

Our View: Next step for Congress: Negotiate

Why it matters: StrokeStyle/$ID/Japanese DotsBudget committee leaders in the House and Senate must put the U.S. financial house in order to create social and economic stability.

As Americans wait for the next shoe to drop in their dysfunctional political system in Washington, D.C., lawmakers — leaders — could do worse than showing a little humility, a willingness to work with opponents for the common good and, at minimum, avoid creating another financial panic before the holiday shopping season.

It’s depressing that our expectations have come to be so low for a country whose political leaders often refer to our greatness. Clearly, they’re referring to the people and not the leadership.

It’s also a bit underwhelming that part of the recent settlement of our budget crisis included a requirement that the leaders of both parties and both houses involved in setting the budget sit down and talk, have discussions with the ultimate goal of reaching common ground.

Apparently opposing budget committee leaders haven’t had such meetings in a couple of years. Americans should be shocked.

So between now and Dec. 13, the 29-member budget conference committee will be meeting to hammer out the budget for the year that started Oct. 1, or maybe even set longer-range spending and budget plans.

House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., emerged from their first meeting last week acknowledging neither will be voting in favor of the other’s budget but their goal was to vote on a “common ground” budget.

That will be a challenge as the Senate’s budget called for higher taxes and much less reform on entitlement spending while the House budget focuses on no tax increases and spending cuts mostly to Medicaid, a medical program for the poor.

Ryan told the media, “I want a budget that works for the country.” And Murray said: “All issues are on the table. We’ll be talking about all of them.”

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