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Debt ceiling stalemate

Posted: July 14, 2011 2:23 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Business leaders from across the United States -- ranging from Wall Street monarchs to small-town family business owners -- barraged Congress earlier this week with the same message that many Americans would like to send: quit arguing and get something done about the debt ceiling and then the long-term fiscal discipline of this country. News reports indicate that a concerted effort from business people across the spectrum was aimed at Washington -- ironically, much of it toward Republican lawmakers who have benefited from business contributions in the past.

The message was clear: the debt ceiling needs to be raised to deal with a short-term crisis, but this country must get its act together to head off a long-term catastrophe.

The letter, signed by hundreds of senior company executives and groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, said that “it is critical that the U.S. government not default in any way” and urges lawmakers “to put aside partisan differences and act in the nation’s best interest.”

 “The business community in large numbers is saying to our leaders in Washington, ‘Do your job,’” said Business Roundtable President John Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan. “Failure to raise the debt ceiling would strike an immediate and serious blow to any economic recovery, and failure to make significant progress on long-term debt reduction will continue the uncertainty which is hampering our investment climate.”

Republican purists in Washington are insisting that they will accept no plan that raises a single tax by a single penny -- including some indefensible breaks that are given to business, such as ethanol subsidies. Their philosophical zeal isn’t getting anything accomplished in getting debt under control. And there are plenty of Democrats who continue to do nothing but play the class warfare game with their weary millionaire/billionaire speeches.

For the country to come out of its borrowing mess, spending is going to have to be cut dramatically and revenue is going to have to come up some. Our elected officials should hop to it now, or they should be churned out of office at the next opportunity.

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