That will not be easy given the deep divisions created during a long campaign, but it will be the true test of leadership.
On fiscal matters, President-elect Trump and the new Congress face an array of problematic issues that range from immediate concerns -- such as annual appropriations and an unavoidable debt limit increase -- to the longer-term challenges of Social Security, health care costs and tax reform.
Adamant but conflicting campaign promises on these issues complicate the outlook and will need to be resolved.
We urge our newly elected and re-elected leaders to approach the months ahead with open minds toward each other's concerns. Neither party's campaign rhetoric has erased some basic facts:
- An accommodation must be reached on spending caps that were approved years ago but are widely unpopular and probably unrealistic. Otherwise it will be impossible to pass appropriation bills in time to avoid yet another government shutdown next fall.
- If an agreement cannot be reached to raise the debt limit, the government will be faced with an unprecedented default on at least some of its obligations as soon as this summer. The harmful impacts on world financial markets and our nation's creditworthiness could be substantial.
- Health care costs will remain the greatest threat to fiscal sustainability as long as they continue to outstrip economic growth.
- Social Security still promises more benefits than the current system can deliver, putting more and more pressure on the rest of the budget and threatening to eventually require sharp cuts in benefits.
- The tax code remains far too complicated and inefficient, providing subsidies to many individuals and companies in ways that are essentially spending programs in disguise.
This is a time of great challenges but it is also a time of great opportunities. For those who are coming to Washington to solve problems, they will find no shortage of them in the nation's fiscal affairs. They can choose to butt heads with each other and get nothing done, or shake hands and embark on a path of accomplishment.
The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Since 1992, Concord has worked to educate the public about the causes and consequences of the federal deficit and debt, and to develop realistic solutions for sustainable budgets. For more fiscal news and analysis, visit concordcoalition.org and follow us on Twitter: @ConcordC
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SOURCE The Concord Coalition