OK, Republicans. You want Congress to adopt a budget and avoid yet another fiscal cliff-hanger with potentially catastrophic consequences, right?
And same with you, Democrats and Independents. Of course, you're all on board.
Then here's something maybe we can all agree on: No Budget, No Pay.
No Budget, No Pay would dock every member of Congress if the Senate fails to pass a budget on time. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently offered their support to the concept, which was actually the brainchild of the nonpartisan organization No Labels more than a year ago.
In December 2011, No Labels introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act in the House. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, and Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, championed the legislation, which had more than 90 co-sponsors in Congress. It actually received a hearing in the Senate last March but ultimately didn't go anywhere.
Now, it's back, and with support growing, there's a good chance the Senate will listen.
"No Budget, No Pay is a common-sense idea that should gain the support of Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate because it's not one party or the other that needs a budget, it's America that needs a budget," said Bill Galston, co-founder of No Labels.
The threat of a good punch to the personal pocketbook won't completely dissuade senators, who unlike many of their constituents aren't living paycheck to paycheck. But this legislation will most certainly get their attention, and to the degree citizens' shouts turn into a crescendo, we believe they will make it law.
Working together on a budget that represents the best interests of all Americans shouldn't require its own legislation, but in these times of unparalleled partisanship, Americans will take all the help they can get.
Agent Orange, continued
In Sunday's editorial, The Press updated readers on progress being made by Dick Phenneger in his quest to raise awareness and, ultimately, increase federal support for military victims of Agent Orange. We took a swipe at U.S. Sen. Jim Risch for blowing off a meeting in Washington, D.C., that Phenneger said he'd arranged and confirmed not once, but twice.
Sen. Risch told The Press Tuesday that somewhere, communication faltered. The senator said he had long been scheduled to be in Idaho on Jan. 9, when Phenneger's visit to the capital was arranged, so there was no intent to no-show for the meeting.
But some good may come from the misunderstanding. Risch said he will be in Coeur d'Alene in early March, and he'll welcome meeting not only with Phenneger but with anyone else interested in Agent Orange issues. Watch this newspaper for specifics on the time and place for that meeting.