Immediately following the October, 2013 shutdown of the US government and near-Default on US Debt, our political leaders and professional media outlets began drawing our attention back to controversies like those surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the NSA spying programs. Clearly, the American People need to know the Obama Administration is trying to address the faults in the online version of the Health Insurance Marketplace while policing the NSA is a major issue that must be addressed. In fact, almost all of the issues featured in the news are important and the American People need to pay attention to them. That said, our main focus at this time must be on addressing the impending threat of a government shut and potential Default scheduled for the beginning of next year.
What the American People need to focus on is the effort to create a bipartisan budget with a long-term deficit reduction plan and a significant restructuring of our tax code. Thanks to the ADHD of our political system and professional news outlets, sensationalized issues like those stemming from Obamacare have clearly taken over our national conversation while the polarizing nature of the ongoing battle is certain to undermine Budget negotiations. The Press once informed the populous and fostered civil discourse, but it now focuses too much on entertainment value. Obamacare may provide the drama the professional media outlets need to hold the attention of viewers, but focusing too much effort on such a narrow topic range, when the world is filled with critical issues representing far more imminent dangers, is driving bad politics, especially when the reporting and commenting offers no solutions.
For our legislators to be successful in their most pressing endeavor, the American People must pay attention, so we can shape the effort and provide enough pressure to ensure a meaningful, bipartisan solution arises. If important issues like healthcare reform steal the spotlight, our politicians will be drawn to the easy political points won through divisive politics. Issues like healthcare reform, immigration reform, energy initiatives, etc., must see progress in the background; after all, once the Budget is squared away, our Legislators must start dealing with the many other major issues our Nation is facing. Unfortunately, our fiscal issues have taken a backseat to whatever event causes the loudest outcry.
Clearly, refocusing our attention will be a challenge as there are numerous major issues developing around the world that impact the US while professional media outlets need to provide viewers with material that holds their attention. In too many respects, we have become a society that only pays attentions to what is happening at the moment in the narrowest terms possible. Meanwhile, time is a precious resource that people must spend decisively. Frankly, the average US Citizen is only going to have so much time at the end of the day to deal with his/her democratic responsibilities, thus professional news outlets need to ensure the Budget debate makes it into the news cycle on a daily basis. It should be one of the most pressing news stories of the day, until the impending crisis is resolved.
Furthermore, our path to fiscal responsibility starts by focusing on solutions that do not provoke partisan bickering. For example, the Government Accountability Office has identified tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, abuse, and fraud that can be addressed without much controversy. Once eliminated, Democrats and Republicans can then upset each other by targeting the spending preferences of the other side; however, they should not target each others’ top priorities at this time as doing so causes too much friction/resistance. Lengthy debates on issues with a significant potential to cause controversy will only derail the process, thus such issues are best dealt in the final rounds of deal making. Our legislative leaders do not need to solve every fiscal issue in one sitting. They need to break the process up into smaller, manageable bits. Right now, they just need to reach a big enough deal to pass a Budget and target the largest areas for cutting spending/raising revenues.