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A first step

Posted: December 7, 2010 9:40 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County voters, like their counterparts throughout the county, should take heart in the fact that Democrats and Republicans finally came together in Washington Monday to forge what looks to be a workable compromise on economic matters. They came up with a measure that will keep income rates at their current pace for another two years and will also extend unemployment taxes; the measure will also reduce the payroll tax on Social Security, instantly putting money into the pockets of working Americans as the country tries to pull out of its long economic tailspin.

Of course, there’s plenty not to like about the compromise; it will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt at a time when the country is already gagging with red ink. But at this time, increasing taxes -- and for that matter, cutting off unemployment -- would have made it more difficult for a recovery to take place. And unlike some faraway plan that promises to give people more money to spend, the payroll tax deduction should have an immediate effect.

Those on the far left will scream that this is a sop to the rich and that President Obama has sold out. Those on the far right will yell that extending unemployment benefits is needless. Those in the middle will perhaps see that working together can get things done at a time when Washington desperately needs to get something done.

Addressing the budget deficit that is piling up is a necessity. The bipartisan deficit reduction commission has come up with a plan that will give elected officials political cover to address this need. So far, predictably, both those on the far left and far right have criticized it as unworkable. We hope that as the two parties have come together to forge this week’s compromise, that they will in the same spirit recognize that they must indeed deal with the deficit, and it will include two painful prongs: raising taxes and cutting spending. That will be the ultimate test of bipartisanship.

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