OUR OPINION: Congress, Obama signal possible compromises

By NEMS Daily Journal

The difficult business of governing resumed Wednesday morning, just hours after President Barack Obama’s second-term victory over GOP challenger Mitt Romney. However, the hard partisan rhetoric on deficits, debts and revenue that had characterized most of the past two years was more pliable – and encouraging.
Extending the conciliatory notes struck in former Gov. Romney’s concession speech in Boston and the president’s victory speech in Chicago, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., both pledged a form of reaching across aisles.
Business is pressing because what’s described as a “fiscal cliff” awaits with continuing inaction. In January, taxes will go up and federal spending will be cut dramatically under terms of previous legislation.
While Boehner said the re-election of the House Republican majority meant there was “no mandate for raising tax rates” he said later in a public statement that new revenue is not off the table. Similarly, Reid said compromise is necessary.
Obama had spoken to Reid, Boehner and Romney during the day on Wednesday.
Most citizens clearly expect progress from the White House and Congress. Polls indicate historically low approval ratings for Congress.
Late Tuesday, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also offered to work with his peers.
“We face a time of massive problems in the federal government. Unfortunately there are no simple answers, but now is the time to come together and address these challenges,” Wicker said.
Sen. Thad Cochran confined his comment to spending bills: “It is my hope that the Senate will be able to resolve its differences and approve spending bills on time and within the constraints of a budget resolution.”
Last year, during Obama-Boehner negotiations over a superdeal, Boehner had tentatively agreed to support $800 billion in additional revenue over the next decade in exchange for Obama’s commitment to let the top tax rate fall below the current 35 percent.
Boehner mentioned the negotiations, saying, “We’re closer than many think to the critical mass needed legislatively to get tax reform done.”
Boehner said Democrats must confront entitlements – the rising cost of Social Security and federal health programs – a fair and necessary expectation.
Mississippi, whose economy continues struggling, has at least as much as any other state to gain from a timely resolution of the “fiscal cliff.”