Democrats and Republicans share blame for the nation's staggering debt, soon to top $16 trillion. But because their party controls the White House now, few Democrats in Congress seem anxious about deficit spending.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is an exception. On Sept. 10, he will do an enormous service to those who understand spending beyond our nation's means simply has to stop.
On that day, at the state Culture Center in Charleston, W.Va., Manchin will host an event of national significance. He has arranged for a ''bipartisan federal fiscal summit'' to include former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.
U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, who represents the northern two tiers of Trumbull County, should be a powerful force at this summit. He won't be.
LaTourette, R-Bainbridge, announced July 31 that he will not seek re-election. The dean of Ohio's congressional delegation ends his tenure after 18 years.
His district's seven Republican Party chairs and secretaries have until 4 p.m. Aug. 13 to find a replacement for him on the November General Election ballot. The replacement, likely to be either Geauga County Prosecutor David P. Joyce or former Ohio representative Matthew Dolan, will face Democrat nominee Dale Virgil Blanchard, Libertarian David Macko and Green Party candidate Elaine Mastromatteo.
LaTourette cited an uncompromising Congress as the reason for his abrupt retirement. Specifically, he pointed to the inability to pass a highway infrastructure bill and the failure of the Simpson-Bowles budget compromise to gain any traction. Simpson and Bowles chaired a national commission that recommended ways of reducing the debt. Few of its ideas were implemented.
Therein lies an interesting comparison between LaTourette and Manchin. Rather than quit, Manchin is refocusing attention on the debt and the need to address it. He, Bowles and Simpson will remind Americans of the major political, economic and social issue of our time and that delay in addressing it has serious consequences.
Consider this: when the Bowles-Simpson commission began its work in April 2010, the national debt was less than $13 trillion. Debt growth at that rate is a clear and present danger to Americans.
Trumbull County is fortunate that LaTourette already did his part in helping secure federal funding to bring a complicated, important, $10.4 million Kinsman sewer project to fruition. Trumbull County commissioners will soon make an announcement about the project. He also introduced a housing demolition bill that could be beneficial locally.
Nearby Hudson is not so fortunate. The city spent $6.9 million to purchase a youth center and now their anticipated federal help likely went out with LaTourette. Trumbull's commissioners have wisely and patiently waited for a federal guarantee before embarking on the Kinsman sewer project.
But LaTourette's decision hurts Trumbull long term. Nearly half (geographically) of the county will go from being represented by a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee to being represented by a freshman while the rest of Trumbull and most of Mahoning County will have U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, likely to be a minority next year.
LaTourette also damaged his own party by not waiting until after the election. The lineup of opposition would be a breather for LaTourette, but a potential challenger for an 11th hour replacement.
In the end, LaTourette turned out to be a little too thin-skinned.