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What others say: Nation needs a grand bargain

Posted: November 3, 2013 - 11:04am

It’s a sad state of affairs when members of Congress realize the need for a grand bargain on the budget but cannot work toward one.

One of the pessimistic federal lawmakers is Florida’s own U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat. He recently told a Sarasota audience that there likely won’t be another government shutdown next year.

But neither will there be a major compromise between Republicans and Democrats to address the national debt, the annual budget deficits and more, he said.

Nelson told the Sarasota audience not to expect a “grand bargain.”

Instead, Nelson expects a smaller deal that will take the rough edges off the next round of budget cuts scheduled. These are the cuts known as sequestration.

Nelson’s remarks are disappointing, because he is one of 28 members of a select committee of House and Senate members who will work on budget compromises. Their deadline is mid-December. If all fails, another shutdown could commence Jan. 15.

Nelson’s remarks, reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, indicate the senator is chiefly concerned with further sequester cuts, which were devised in 2011 as a way to force compromise.

The sequester grew out of the failure of a previous select committee after the last government standoff in 2011. ...

The Budget Control Act’s congressional panel failed to compromise, so the sequester began to take effect March 1. Deeper cuts begin on Jan. 15, and Nelson says they will decimate NASA’s space program.

That’s a major concern for Volusia County and its neighbors. ...

While cuts in social spending and the military should be made, they should be made prudently.

So Nelson and others on the select committee need to buck up and shed the pessimism. The nation badly needs a grand bargain — an intelligent way to cut the $17 trillion debt over time, without crippling the Pentagon, NASA or programs for vulnerable people.

The debt is a serious issue, and Congress must end the excuses and stop keep kicking the can down the road.

— The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.,

Oct. 29

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