Two of California's most powerful politicians, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, appear headed for a showdown.
The issue: Deficits and debt have been growing out of control since 2001. Congress faces yet another vote to increase the debt limit. So how do Congress and the president rein in the biggest cost drivers in the budget — health care and retirement pensions?
Pelosi believes the first step must be to pass health care reform that brings down costs across the system. While Feinstein also supports health care reform, she and other senators want Congress to establish a permanent commission to make recommendations every five years on Social Security and Medicare solvency.
While it may be great entertainment to see these powerful eminences butt heads on this issue, it would be far better for the nation if they'd sit down and hash out a deal.
In this harshest economic downturn since the Depression, workers are seeing their 401(k) retirement funds evaporate (and many receive no retirement benefits at all). While people clearly see the value of safety nets such as Social Security and Medicare, they know these programs are strained by an aging population and growing costs.
Something must give.
For Pelosi, health care reform is the first step. As she has said, "Medicare's solvency will also be improved when the House acts on historic health care reform."
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.