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Peel off labels, work together


Something didn’t happen in Washington last week, and if you would like a job after college or the income to pay off your loans, then what Washington didn’t do is something to worry about.

For the 17th-straight year, Congress has missed the deadline for passing a final budget and the spending bills needed to fund government operations for the next 12 months. This may not have made the headlines, but it’s a big deal.

The most basic job Congress has is deciding how much money the government takes in and how much it spends. And when Congress does not do its job, you suffer.

One reason the economy is growing too slowly to cut unemployment or create jobs for new college graduates is because there is uncertainty about federal tax and spending plans. With Congress gridlocked, businesses can’t plan reliably or make investments in new equipment or new workers. That’s part of the reason why many recent college graduates are moving back home with mom and dad and working at jobs they did right out of high school, if they are lucky enough to find any job at all.

The missed budget deadlines are only the latest example of congressional dysfunction. By wide agreement, the current Congress is the least productive since the end of World War II, passing far fewer bills than any of its predecessors in the last 60 years.

Most college students are unfortunately too young to remember that America’s government hasn’t always been this dysfunctional.

Thirty years ago, President Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill, agreed on a plan to strengthen the finances of the Social Security system.  In the early 1990s, the first President Bush worked with Democrats on a plan to reduce the deficit.  President Clinton and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich put aside their personal battles to help reform the welfare system. More recently, President George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy, a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat, cooperated on a law designed to improve America’s schools.

It is possible for our leaders to work together, if citizens demand it. College students across America need to insist on it, too — and the best way to do so, in 2012 and beyond, is by joining No Labels.

We are a group of almost 600,000 Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to moving America away from the old politics of point-scoring and toward a new politics of problem solving. We have citizen leaders in every congressional district in America and most importantly, we have growing influence on Capitol Hill.

No Labels’ work will be critically important matter no matter who wins or loses in the November elections, because many of our nation’s problems have become election-proof.

Democratic and Republican leaders come and go but the dysfunction remains. It’s the only certainty you will find in our nation’s capital.

That’s why No Labels supports specific reforms, leaders and legislation that will make it easier to create effective, principled and pragmatic solutions to America’s problems.

No Labels is above all, an action- and results-oriented organization — offering common-sense reforms to our nation’s problems and exerting grassroots pressure on our leaders to work together.

But the success of our effort to get our government to stop fighting and start fixing depends almost entirely on the size and dedication of our grassroots army, which is growing every single day.

You don’t need to shed your identity to join the No Labels movement. You can be a proud liberal, a proud conservative or anything in between. You just need to be open to the idea that people with different beliefs really can set aside the labels and come together to solve problems.

And we would love a few Scarlet Knights to climb aboard this movement.

Nancy Jacobson and Mark McKinnon are No Labels Co-Founders

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