The debt-ceiling debate that has consumed us over the past few weeks once again demonstrated that we live in a divided country and that Congress is torn between party ideology and putting the long-term interests of the country first.
The bipartisan debt deal that was reached could have been agreed upon long before the Aug. 3 deadline. Republicans argued that President Barack Obama didn't provide a framework. Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled Congress ignored the issue, and the Tea Party faction of Congress preferred to blatantly cut spending and government all at once. Democrats also argued that Republicans were being unreasonable and were not serious about coming to a rational solution before the situation worsened.
The facts are that the president did provide a framework and Vice President Joe Biden was working with members of Congress to create a bill that would pass and that President Obama would sign. The public quickly forgot that it was the Democratic-controlled Congress that passed the pay-as-you-go bill, and it was Republicans who disagreed with the notion and preferred to spend recklessly in the name of national security. Democrats were right to argue that Republicans were not serious about reaching an agreement since they wanted more tax cuts for the wealthy in order to create the jobs that the previous tax cuts of the last 10 years were supposed to have created.
So here we are. There is enough blame to go around and more than enough leaders who possess a wishbone instead of a backbone. Regardless of what side of the political aisle you are on, the fact remains that none of us would have benefited if a deal had not been made and the country had defaulted on its financial obligations. Since when did "compromise" become a four-letter word?
This is not a question about why we have a debt ceiling or who is to blame. Even the beloved GOP icon Ronald Reagan requested that the debt ceiling be raised 18 times during his two terms in the White House. For President Obama to catch this much hell over raising the debt ceiling once is puzzling. To be honest, it doesn't matter how we got to this point. What is important is how we get out of this mess and prevent this situation from occurring again. We can discuss the way to solve our problems, but our commitment to fixing these issues is not up for debate.
This is our 21st-century starting point. Domestic and Pentagon spending will be cut, and no cuts will be made to the crucial investments like financial aid for college students. We can't expect to compete globally and move from ninth in the world to first in college graduation rate if people can't afford to attend school. Cuts in defense spending will not weaken our military or our national security. Past and present defense secretaries have called for cuts to U.S. military spending, and they've gotten support from commanders on the ground.
The Republicans running for president can poke holes and use this situation to raise money and gain an edge over their opponents in a crowded and close-minded negative field, and tea and coffee lovers can continue to talk loudly and say nothing, but the people must be able to see the good that has been accomplished by the bipartisan debt agreement.
As we face serious fiscal problems as a nation and in communities across the country, I remain convinced that better days are ahead of us. One day we will be able to make compromises in order to solve our problems instead of being stubborn and passing them on to the next generation.