Tonawanda News

Columns

November 14, 2012

DUVALL: Divided government shouldn't be a death knell to progress

Tonawanda News — I don’t know about you, but I’m really glad the election is over. 

Alas, in our infinite wisdom, we sent back almost all of the people who messed things up last time. Fortunately, it was with a single mandate identical to both parties: Stop fighting and get things done.

Divided government shouldn’t be a death knell to progress. Both sides, when acting reasonably, bring important perspectives to the debate. Democrats rightly see government as a tool to help address these problems. Republicans emphasize the role the private sector needs to play in helping an ailing economy. Contrary to popular belief, these two ideas are not diametrically opposed. In fact they can be combined.

Republicans are right: The government needs to be sensitive to the inhibitions excessive government places on growth. Democrats are right: The private sector necessarily acts in its own interests (until it doesn’t, which is when regulation becomes necessary) and can’t possibly address every problem we’re facing. 

My pre-election column called for a new group of Americans to assert themselves, one with an approach to problem-solving that isn’t rooted in partisanship. I meant it when I said it. Here’s what that might look like in practice during the coming lame duck session.

First, if I were advising President Obama, I would encourage him to reach out to the business community. Bring in corporate executives from across economic sectors — health care, manufacturing, banking, media, technology — and draft their signatures on a letter to the leadership of both parties in Congress. That letter should state the obvious: We are headed to a fiscal cliff in the form of destructive tax increases and budget cuts that will plunge our economy back into recession if enacted.

Then invite the signatories to a press conference in the East Room of the White House. Allow each to tell the American people why they aren’t hiring. I’m willing to bet the first thing they’ll say is paralysis in Washington is creating uncertainty and businesses don’t act unless they’re reasonably certain it will mean making money.

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