Commentary: Raising of debt celing depends on rational discourse, leadership

Last week we ran a commentary in these pages by Allan Luks, a professor at Fordham University and a former director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Luks suggested that charities and other nonprofits lead the way in resolving the nation's debt by calling for an end to most tax deductions for charitable giving.

Charities would lose money. Government revenue would increase, in one example by more than $15 billion a year. In an argument that probably didn't get much traction among nonprofits, Luks said the charities have long played a role as the national conscience and would be doing so again in volunteering to give something up for the long-range good of all.

We've come to a strange pass when a leader in the field of charities and nonprofits, some working for the most needy among us, says it's time to set the example for businesses, industries, individuals and interest groups left and right to put the nation's well-being before self-interest.

Such a call testifies to the lack of political leadership we're seeing from Washington in the drama over the debt ceiling.

For starters, we'd like to hear some straighter talk.

Stop calling Social Security and Medicare "entitlements." They may well need to change. But let's remember that millions of hard-working Americans, both employers and employees, have for generations paid for these benefits, many with callused hands and long hours. Go ahead, look those people in the eye and tell them they haven't earned their benefits. Then brace yourself.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.adn.com.