January 23, 2013

A Time To Come Together

Monday's presidential inauguration, fittingly falling on Martin Luther King Day, was a day to put politics aside and come together as a nation. President Obama's speech had a similar theme – there is much to be done, and bickering in Washington D.C. like we've seen the last few years could have a catastrophic effect, President Obama laid out his second term agenda, and there can be little argument from either side of the aisle about the issues that need to be addressed: the high cost of health insurance, the ever-increasing national deficit, the millions of illegal immigrants, and the preservation of Social Security and Medicare.

We can quibble about how these problems should be addressed: Obama's call for decreasing health insurance costs, for example, seem at odds with his own Obamacare, which so far at least is driving premiums up, not down. And his insistence on raising the debt ceiling flies in the face of his call to reduce spending: he blames it on the Bush tax cuts, the GOP blame it on Obama's wild spending spree shortly after he took office for his first term. Neither side has produced an honest plan that aggressively cuts spending, however.

Immigration reform is an issue the president has promised to address, and we support his plan to offer a path toward legalization for those immigrants who have forged a life here. There are those who want a tougher stance – to deport millions of foreigners. That is a myopic view, and an unworkable solution. We do not have the manpower to hunt down folks who entered our borders illegally, and the court system would become hopelessly backlogged even if we did. More to the point, it's an ugly, divisive, racist solution. This is America, and we are better than that. Our history is as a great melting pot, and getting people on the books and ingrained in our society should be our ultimate goal. It's time to embrace all our neighbors.

Social Security reform is an easy one, and the failure of Washington to address it has been political and nothing more. Right now salaries over a certain amount are exempt from the tax: raise the ceiling, and stabilize the system.

There is, of course, the concept of the loyal opposition. There will always be differences of opinion in the Capitol -- that goes without saying. We must stop confusing stubbornness with compromise.

The truth is Obama's legacy and the future of this country are intertwined; if the president fails to right the ship in his second term, and the economy slips, we will all be lunging for the same life raft. It's imperative that folks once again embrace the American dream of home ownership, health care, and a secure retirement.

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