Last January, members of Congress paired up with colleagues of the opposite party for the State of the Union Address. It was a welcome, if symbolic, display of political civility.
In the ensuing months, Congress and the Obama administration have struggled to put this civility into practice as they have grappled with sincere disagreements over the best approach to meeting the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.
Agreements were eventually reached on funding levels for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year and on a complex process for raising the statutory debt limit. These agreements, however, largely avoided entitlement and tax reform -- the core issues on which Democrats and Republicans disagree and on which so much of our future depends.
Moreover, the partisan, petty and contentious atmosphere that continues to hang over Capitol Hill has angered the public and rattled financial markets.
There is hope, however, that the new joint congressional committee -- set up to find ways to reduce projected deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years -- can change things.
With an even split between the two parties and the backing of congressional leaders and the President, the committee has an opportunity to transcend politics as usual, exceed its modest mandate and forge a fiscal...