Michigan Senator Carl Levin says the U-S Congress is facing fundamental questions about whether it can continue to function.
Levin spoke at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.
Levin spoke in spoke in personal terms about “the dilemma that I and other members of Congress face.”
Levin says that dilemma is driven by Tea Party-influenced Republican legislators who refuse to compromise. And “compromise is fundamental to representative government, because that government exists to balance the varying needs and desires of a large and diverse nation,” Levin said. "If we can’t compromise, the system just won’t work.”
Levin says the recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests have the potential to be helpful—because they focus attention on “things that have gone wrong…and [the fact that] some people have not been held accountable.”
“It is tapping some real anger and frustration among the American people, and that’s helpful, if it continues to be non-violent.”
Levin says Congress should focus its efforts on President Obama’s jobs bill, and creating what he calls “a fairer tax system,” where higher-income Americans pay more, and tax loopholes are closed.
Levin says the next biggest test of governmental compromise will come soon,with the Congressional “super-committee” wrangling over how to cut the deficit. Levin and other Democrats insist that must include additional revenue in the form of higher taxes.
If an agreement can’t be reached, Levin says nothing will get done until after the 2012 elections. “But that is a second best, not-even-close approach," he adds. "It would be a year of additional unnecessary, pain, anger, frustration. So we’re all hoping it gets resolved this year.”
Levin says despite the dire circumstances, he has a “deep faith” in the country’s ability to work through the political crisis.