Six presidential candidates have made the No Labels problem solving promise.
As members of the 2040 Matters community know, I encourage people who favor more effective and less needlessly partisan government to support No Labels, which is co-chaired by Joe Lieberman and Jon Huntsman. On Monday, No Labels announced that six presidential candidates had agreed to its “problem solver promise.” Members of the 2040 Matters community should be interested in this development for several reasons.
First, we want our elected officials to be problem solvers rather than highly-partisan and uncompromising politicians who would rather let critical public policy problems fester than accept something less than their view of a “perfect” solution. As a nation facing enormous challenges over the next 25 years, we cannot afford to let the “perfect be the enemy of the good,” particularly when our government is performing so poorly in so many areas today.
Second, the promise includes a commitment to a national strategic agenda with four goals: (1) creating 25 million new jobs over ten years; (2) securing Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years; (3) balancing the budget by 2030; and (4) achieving energy independence by 2024. Even if we might have slightly different policy preferences, the top three goals are consistent with the 2040 Matters emphasis on repairing both components of the American Dream – economic mobility and generational justice. Rather than let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we should recognize that the strategic goals are strong evidence of priorities that are consistent with ours.
Third, the promise has an additional component that should be welcome news to those who have grown tired of almost 16 years of an increasingly unitary or imperial presidency as well as presidential candidates who make unrealistic policy proposals, especially on federal spending and legislative reform, as if there is only one branch of government. It should also be welcome news to those who have grown tired of Congress shirking and, in some cases refusing to perform, its Article I duties. To address these problems, the promise commits each presidential candidate to begin working with Congressional leaders within 30 days of inauguration on at least one of the four strategic goals. This is long overdue.
Fourth, you may be surprised who has made the pledge. I was, at least in part. From the Republican field, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul have all made the promise. For some of these candidates, we will have to see if their campaign rhetoric and debate performances are consistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of the pledge. From the Democratic field, only Martin O’Malley has made the promise.
The promise can be made at any time, so stay tuned to see if other candidates join this initial wave.