Getting a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff is going to cost some lawmakers their jobs.
“There are people who are going to have to vote for this and they’re going to lose their next election. I can swear to you that’s going to happen,” former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt told the Alley a few days ago.
And the difficulty in getting a deal is why Gephardt joined with former congressional leaders including former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former Senate majority leaders Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and Trent Lott, a Republican, to pen a letter to the editor in The Washington Post last week. The letter called on the public to support President Obama and congressional leaders as they work to cut a deal.
“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,” the former congressional leaders wrote.
“We know that charting a long-term fiscal path will require painful and difficult compromises by Congress and the president,” the letter also said. “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.”
The country’s leaders don’t need more input on what they should do; rather, they need to know the public supports a deal, Gephardt said.
“When you’ve been in a leadership position, and we all have in that group, you know how hard this is. And you know you don’t need more ideas, you need support,” Gephardt said.
A veteran of several epic spending and entitlement reform battles, Gephardt is bullish about the chances that Obama and congressional leaders can work something out. But he expects that any deal will be an interim down payment, mostly because there’s not enough time to sell a bigger pact to the members.
“Getting the leaders to agree, that gets you four votes. You need a lot more,” he said. “And you get them one by one and they’re hard to get.”
This article originally appeared in Government Executive .