Opportunity for budget reform
Although the United States faces two years of divided government, having a Democrat President and Republican Congress need not bring total gridlock.
This is an opportunity to pass reforms that will not take effect until 2017 or later, when either party may hold the White House or Congress and the partisan impact of such reforms is unclear.
One such bill would reform the budget process by requiring future presidents to submit a balanced budget to Congress. This could be phased in, allowing the president to show steadily shrinking deficits for perhaps the first five years and a balanced budget from that point forward.
A balanced budget proposal from the president would provide an important starting point for the debate over government spending. It would force the president and his Cabinet to determine priorities. Congress, in its budget debates, would have to explain why additional spending was so important that it would justify running a deficit.
The last time this nation had a Democrat president and a Republican Congress, they balanced the budget while also cutting taxes. Surely President Obama and the 114th Congress can agree on this modest legislation, a small first step toward a balanced budget.
Peter J. Thomas
The writer is chairman of Americans for Constitutional Liberty/The Conservative Caucus. He served in the past three Republican presidential administrations.