Well, the House of Representatives got a chance Wednesday to show just how serious it is about tackling the federal deficit and the burgeoning national debt.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House soundly defeated a bill based on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission. That presidential commission - chaired by Democrat Chester Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson - was charged with finding a mix of tax increases, tax reform and spending cuts to put the U.S. on a more stable fiscal path.
The commission's findings and recommendations have been largely ignored since they were presented to President Obama in December 2010.
But two moderate congressmen - Republican Steve LaTourette of Ohio and Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee - tried to revive its recommendations in the form of a budget bill pairing tax increases and spending cuts to trim $4 trillion from federal deficits over the next decade.
The bill was defeated by a 382-28 roll-call vote.
The problem with the plan based on Simpson-Bowles is that it asked all of us to sacrifice. In short, there was something for everybody to hate. Certainly there are portions of the commission's recommendations that we oppose (like the elimination of the home mortgage interest deduction), but the overwhelming defeat ensures that the plan is unlikely to be reviewed again this year.
In our view, Simpson-Bowles is the only comprehensive look at tackling the deficit crisis.
So an opportunity was missed for Congress to begin serious work on curbing spending and reforming the tax code. An opportunity was also missed to show the two parties can actually work together to find solutions for the country's biggest problem - the deficit.
The House was poised to pass - on party lines - a Republican budget proposal that will be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. So the bickering will continue and no serious work will be done.
Incidentally, the House also defeated President Obama's budget plan 414-0 Wednesday night.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.