December 5, 2012

As former leaders of Congress who have just witnessed another closely fought election, we would like to share our thoughts with our fellow citizens.

We believe it is imperative that President Obama and Congress — the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-led House — address the fiscal and budgetary issues that we must face, and we believe your voices will help to sustain the positive statements we have heard from leaders of both parties on these important questions in recent days.

On election night, President Obama said that he was “looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.” On the day after the election, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the American people “gave us a mandate to work together to do the best thing for our country.” We agree with both of them, and we believe that some moments in history simply demand cooperation and compromise from everyone to achieve a brighter future. This is one of those times.

We have faced similar challenges in the past and, by working together, with the cooperation and acquiescence of the American people, we met the challenges and got seemingly intractable problems straightened out.

We believe the present generation of leaders can do this again, in the process fostering robust economic growth and furthering what we believe will be the great American comeback.

We know that charting such a long-term fiscal path will require painful and difficult compromises by Congress and the president.

We also know that those compromises may not be reached unless there is a broad agreement by all of us that shared sacrifice is the necessary requirement to build the bright future for our country — and for the world — that we all want.

We urge all of you who agree with our thoughts to share your own with our national leaders and your elected representatives in Congress. The campaign’s end does not mean the end of your involvement. The men and women you elected and reelected will need your support in making difficult decisions and asking for the sacrifices we will all have to make. We ask that you join us in adding your voice to this national conversation.

Dick Gephardt, Dennis Hastert, Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, Tom Foley, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Bob Michel, George Mitchell Jr. and Jim Wright Jr.

Foley (D-Wash.), Hastert (R-Ill.) and Wright (D-Tex.) are former speakers of the House. Gephardt (D-Mo.) is a former House majority leader. Michel (R-Ill.) is a former House minority leader. Baker (R-Tenn.), Daschle (D-S.D.), Dole (R-Kan.), Frist (R-Tenn.), Lott (R-Miss.) and Mitchell (D-Maine) are former Senate majority leaders.