The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 3, 2012

Election is over: Time for nation to come together

The Tribune-Democrat

— Like a majority of those who voted in Cambria and Somerset counties, we believed Mitt Romney was the best person to lead our country and help solve its problems over the next four years. We said so in our editorial endorsement.

But after a long, bitter and hard-fought campaign, our nation voted on Nov. 6 in a democratic election to re-elect Barack Obama.

It’s now time for the divisiveness to end – in the halls of Congress and in the neighborhoods of America – and for all of us to come together and make this country

strong and prosperous once more.

Our region is no exception.

In his victory speech, President Obama said, in part, “You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.

“Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.”

Indeed we do.

In reflecting a day after the election, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “The American people re-elected the president, and re-elected our majority in the House. If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt.”

Again, we couldn’t agree more.

Yet a month after the votes were counted, we’re still not seeing Democrats and Republicans in Washington come together. What don’t they understand?

More importantly, when will they get it?

Today, talk is focused on the “fiscal cliff,” a term coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to describe the $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

Lawmakers intentionally put them in place last year during the debt ceiling debate because they wanted to force a deficit-reduction compromise by the end of the year.

Time is running out.

The president’s plan is to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans and to provide tax credits to small businesses that add jobs or increase wages.

The Republicans want a solution based on spending cuts. Until recently, they were solid about not increasing taxes, something we’ve agreed upon. Some are now reneging. Maybe that’s a sign of compromise. We hope so.

In any case, we agree with those who call for the two parties to come together and address the challenges.

We’ve witnessed continued anger and resentment toward the president in writers to our Readers’ Forum. The Obama supporters have been just as vocal in defending the president and criticizing Republican ideas.

A woman called our newsroom last week with a message for our editors: “Please stop the hateful letters. I’m afraid for our country and what will happen if we don’t stop this fighting among ourselves.”

We agreed.

We urge our writers to continue offering their ideas and thoughts on our nation’s problems. We urge them to call our senators and congressmen with their solutions and to lobby them to come together.

As the president said in another portion of his victory speech: “... But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.

“That’s the principle we were founded on.”

And that’s something we all should agree on.

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