Both sides are right; there is no one road to a brighter economic climate and an improved future in America. There is room for ideas from both sides.
The seating arrangement was new, the atmosphere was restrained and the mission was apparent as President Barack Obama delivered his midterm State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress and the nation last night.
Republicans and Democrats sat together in a symbolic show of bipartisanship following the shooting rampage in Tucson this month that killed six and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Washington’s mindfulness of political civility was apparent throughout the evening: no jeering shouts from the gallery; no pointed rebukes from Obama, as with his comment regarding a Supreme Court decision last year; and a heartfelt presidential welcome to a clearly emotional House Speaker John Boehner.
Beyond the trappings and politeness, there is, largely, bipartisan agreement on the challenges Washington faces: reining in its skyrocketing deficit, coaxing along a recovering economy, improving the nation’s business climate and lowering the doggedly high unemployment rate.
Deciding exactly what roads to take to reach these goals is where there is often a partisan parting of the ways. Last night, Obama, for example, proposed freezing discretionary spending, simplifying the tax code and targeting spending on core initiatives such as clean energy. Republicans prefer cutting rather than freezing government spending and are much less receptive to new spending initiatives.
Both sides are right; there is no one road to a brighter economic climate and an improved future in America. There is room for ideas from both sides. What there is not room for is either Democrats or Republicans — or the Senate, which is controlled by the former, or the House, which is controlled by the latter — to adopt an all-or-nothing posture in the weeks and months ahead, bringing any progress to a halt.
The charge now is for all lawmakers — from the president to freshman House members — to carry through on their stated intentions to look for common ground to solve our common problems.
There’s a big difference between rubbing elbows and working arm-in-arm. Symbolic seating charts are fine, however, we need not just bipartisan acts but bipartisan action.
-- The Messenger Post (N.Y.)