The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


December 1, 2012

A letter to the president and Congress: Get busy

The Back Porch

Dear President Obama:

Congratulations on winning the election. As you know, not everyone is happy you were re-elected.

I’ve been on a diet for several months and lost weight. One of my co-workers recently remarked on my baggy pants.

“It looks like a family of coal miners moved out,” I said, “and they all voted for Mitt Romney.”

That 47 percent Mitt Romney talked about is the number of people who voted against you. While you won, it certainly was no mandate. Keep that in mind as we edge ever closer to the fiscal cliff.

People expect something different this go-round or at least this person does.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused you of continuing to campaign instead of getting down to work with Congress. He noted your jet-setting trips around the country to woo the American people.

McConnell looks like he could be an ornery old cuss, but he’s right. The ones who need wooing right now are the members of Congress, not the American people. Put on some Chap Stick, Mr. President, and get to it.

The Republicans are on their back sides after losing the Hispanic vote to you. You have their attention, and you should be using it to reach a compromise. Election results should suggest to you and everyone else that moderation is what the voting public wants.

When did compromise become a dirty word or unpardonable sin? Compromise is something that most reasonable, intelligent adults do on a regular basis. Why can’t you and Congress?

When I was down in Mississippi, the local college president told a story about how she took over during a fractious time in the institution’s history and somehow managed to build consensus and move forward. She said she looked to another president: Abraham Lincoln.

No. 16 was unusual in that he appointed many of his opponents to Cabinet positions. He practiced the adage of keeping friends close and enemies closer. Having them in his Cabinet allowed Lincoln to keep close tabs on them.

Yet you persist in spending these last critical days before deadline on the road courting voters. You should have learned from an earlier, similar attempt that public pressure like that cannot move Congress.

It’s time for a lock-in. Camp out on Capitol Hill, round up the leaders and join them in a locked room. Feed them pizza until you reach a compromise. And compromise means that BOTH sides give a little. That means you, too, Mr. President.

I suspect it would take 72 hours tops.

If enemy troops were at the shores of New York, you and Congress would be pulling all-nighters. This is a matter of national security — national economic security.

We don’t have the patience or the resources for another huge bailout. Leaving the most economically vulnerable people on a limb is irresponsible and unconscionable. That’s the case you should be making to Congress and the American people.

This isn’t a matter of winning; it’s a matter of leading. You won. Now lead.

— Young is a Register-Herald columnist.

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© 2012 by Nerissa Young


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