Shared power in Congress could result in fiscal responsibility

Republicans and Democrats can find common ground to eventually reduce the national debt.

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Rhetoric met reality last week as Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Many GOP candidates won election to Congress with a promise cut $100 billion from domestic spending this year.

But trimming that much from the federal budget is far easier said - or promised - than done.

Every federal program is popular with at least a few people, which is exactly why it was funded in the first place. So cutting spending will result in political opposition.

And that opposition might be more fierce than usual because of the Great Recession. The economy is just now beginning to recover and yanking federal dollars that circulate throughout the private sector could slow the economic recovery or even bring on a dreaded double-dip recession.

The New York Times reports that cutting $100 billion would result in a 20 percent across-the-board cut in federal programs such as education and transportation since the GOP has already taken spending for military, veterans and domestic security off the chopping block. The remaining cuts would have to be so deep that Senate Republicans have opted to go low profile.

Even if Senate Republicans were on board, the GOP still wouldn't be able to keep this promise. The Senate remains controlled by Democrats, albeit by a much smaller margin than before, and there is zero chance a 20 percent across-the-board cut would even be considered by the full Senate.

Still, most Americans favor a reduction in federal spending. The mounting federal debt brought on by annual deficit spending is very troubling to most folks.

Polls show voters want to see a reduction in spending that will lead to a reduction of the national debt.

However, what they won't tell pollsters is that they want the spending cuts to be painless - as in not impacting them.

That, of course, is impossible and exactly why members of Congress have to muster the political will to reduce spending.

The GOP pledge to trim $100 billion won't be fulfilled, but it could serve as a catalyst for members of Congress - from both parties - to make a serious effort to reduce federal spending now and agree on a plan for more spending reductions over time.

Republicans and Democrats, now that they share power in Congress, have an opportunity to find common ground that will ultimately put the nation on more solid financial footing.

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