It is time for Congress to address tough issues

While I’m glad that we didn’t hurtle over the so-called fiscal cliff, I’ve been around long enough to realize that virtually none of the causes of our current and future problems have been addressed to any significant degree. Almost nothing of any importance was accomplished in the final hours of 2012; rather, most of our 535 congressmen (impersonating adults) who were elected to address the concerns of the people only pretended to solve a problem they created during their last charade several months ago, and in so doing have merely sown the seeds for the next chapter in the book of brinkmanship.

There is enough blame to go around, and it should be unnecessary at this late date to reiterate the crimes of both parties over the last 30-plus years that have brought us to this sorry place. Even now, the only reason that House Republicans allowed the fiscal cliff to be averted was that they knew that they would be blamed if they did not, and voters would be foolish to think that there was any more honorable reason.

So it is now vital that Democrats – no strangers to digging in their heels – make sure that they dispense with the celebrations and be honestly willing to make some hard decisions. In the coming months the real work must be done, the work that has been deferred and held hostage to ideologues from both parties for decades. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security must be fixed. The tax code must be overhauled. And Obamacare must be revised.

It is the job of all of our representatives to fix, not destroy, these programs, and to think about the benefit to the entire country, not just their specific constituents or campaign contributors. Sadly, none of this will be accomplished as long as Democrats and Republicans continue their intransigence and their dogmatism.

John W. Nelson