The Next Step

It seems to me that we now have before Congress a straightforward -- and I think a very constructive -- effort to face up to deficit reduction now that the latest Senate plan has been offered.

If there is some affirmative response or signal from the White House, we might then take the next step. And that would be to indicate, or to determine, whether there will be any reason for the president, the speaker and others who are engaged in this process to sit down -- not just to visit about the budget and the deficit but actually to come to grips and make some decisions on what we intend to do about it. The deficit is there. I know the media like to pick out defense, Social Security or the import fee and write a lot of stuff about that. It may be necessary. But I hope that sometime someone will write a column or two on the danger of the deficit and what it means to Social Security recipients, what it means to people who drive automobiles or to someone who maybe wants to buy one. It is easy to go to special-interest groups and find opposition to cutting any program. . . .

In my view, it is time that we address this problem as we should, not only as a national problem but as a global problem, and one that could engulf our economy in the next year or two.

So I am very optimistic. I am very pleased with the leadership -- bipartisan leadership -- of the Senate conferees. Now we will await some positive signals. . . .