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Stearns sticks to his message

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, stuck to his guns this week and voted against the compromise bill to settle, at least for now, the debt ceiling battle in Congress.
On his website, Stearns said he backed the plan put forth by Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The problem is that the Boehner proposal was never going to pass. It is surprising that, with all of his experience, Stearns failed to recognize this while embracing the art of compromise to avoid a financial crisis in America.
On his website, Stearns said, “The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff identified our deficit crisis as America’s greatest threat, and this measure does not go far enough in holding down the growth in our national debt. Without significant spending cuts and reforms to essential programs, we are facing fiscal insolvency and the collapse of essential programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
“The final measure cuts less spending in the first year than the Boehner plan; the Boehner plan cut $22 billion compared with as little as $6 billion in this measure. I supported the Boehner plan to move us forward in reaching the $4 trillion in savings needed to avoid a ratings downgrade. This bill is $1.6 trillion short of what is needed to prevent a downgrade.
“This measure also makes it easier for the President to increase the debt limit in the future. In addition, the language for a balanced budget amendment is less precise and only requires a vote in the House and Senate instead of its actual passage by both that would result in it being sent to the states for ratification.  Another concern was that this final plan sets discretionary spending for fiscal year 2012 at $24 billion higher than in the Ryan Budget Resolution, which I supported.”
There are times when people on both sides of the aisle have to give a little to get things done properly in the House. It’s too bad that Stearns didn’t recognize that when he voted against this bill.
Patience is what is needed by the Republicans. If, indeed, the public backs them, it will show in next year’s election if the GOP can continue its sweep from 2010. But the Republicans should be cautious about overplaying their hand before they have the total power in both Chambers and in the White House. A move like that could backfire in 2012.