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David M. Walker: Fiscal Cliff Deal Fails To Address Greatest Deficit -- Political Leadership

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Jan. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- While it is good that the President and Congressional leaders have reached an agreement to avoid the full impact of the fiscal cliff, and the Senate has passed it with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the inexcusable fact is that our elected officials did take us over the fiscal cliff. Hopefully, reasoned and reasonable Democrats and Republicans will come together and pass the bill in the House today. 

Even if legislation is passed today, the way the negotiations unfolded is an utter embarrassment to the United States and our nation's founders. It demonstrates that the biggest deficit we face as a nation is a leadership deficit. It's time for our elected officials to become leaders rather than laggards. In this regard, the new Congress should not take any breaks -- or recesses, as they are called on Capitol Hill -- until they reach a meaningful fiscal "grand bargain" in 2013. The American people should tell their elected officials "Don't Come Home: No Deal, No Break."

The President and Congressional leaders created the "fiscal cliff" in the first place, and had over 16 months to come up with a resolution. The fact they once again showed they were incapable of addressing the huge and self-made cliff makes it clear that our current political system is broken. We now have a republic that is no longer representative of, nor responsive to, the general public.

The announced fiscal cliff agreement is very modest and does not come close to addressing our greatest fiscal challenge - unsustainable social insurance programs, especially health care programs, defense and other spending, and an outdated and inadequate tax system. Therefore, this deal is only a first step in what will need to be a multi-step road to restore fiscal sanity. We can only hope it serves as a wake up call and results in both parties coming together in ways that show they are still capable of responsible governance.

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