Good Policy Is Good Politics
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We are just days into 2012 and already the demands of a frantic election season threaten to draw time, attention, and focus away from our nation’s most pressing priorities. Our country can’t afford 2012 to be a wasted year in Washington. With chronically high unemployment and a mounting deficit, a year of inaction by the administration and Congress would hold severe consequences for our sluggish economy.
The administration has signaled a slim legislative agenda for 2012 so that the president can focus on his reelection. Some members of Congress will quickly settle into campaign mode, often neglecting what they were elected to do. Lawmakers will likely avoid tough votes and put off the hard work of legislating for another year. In short, politicking will take precedence, and policymaking will take a backseat.
For the sake of our economic recovery, we must reject the conventional wisdom that nothing gets done in an election year. And there’s plenty to do.
Where to start? How about picking up the can Congress kicked down the road with last year’s failed deficit reduction efforts. Though $1.5 trillion in automatic budget cuts will take effect in 2013, our nation’s deficit isn’t going to reduce itself. Unsustainable entitlements will continue to drive us deeper into the hole unless we reform and restructure them. Congress should also tackle comprehensive tax reform this year to lower rates for individuals and corporations and help stabilize the economy and spur growth. If the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, millions of small business owners will be hit with tax hikes.
We should seize the opportunity for energy security by developing our own natural resources and moving forward on key energy infrastructure projects like the stalled Keystone XL pipeline. Doing so would generate government revenue and high-paying jobs. And why not get to work rebuilding and maintaining our nation’s roads, bridges, harbors, and airports? Congress should pass long-term transportation funding bills to modernize our infrastructure and put Americans to work.
The challenges we face require serious and sustained action—not just campaign slogans and candidates’ sound bites.
Most important, it isn’t about the hundreds of lawmakers and candidates who will ask American voters to give them a job on Election Day. It’s about the 20 million Americans we need to put to work this decade. If our current lawmakers stay focused on that goal—and truly work to spur economic growth and job creation—voters might be a little more eager to rehire them. After all, good policy is good politics.