In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, it was heartening to hear about the improving economy, but it would have been encouraging to hear plans for fixing our national debt. Washington needs to quit talking about the problem, bite the bullet and act. The Blue Dog Democrats were the only group in Congress that pushed for reform, only to be squeezed out by left- and right-wing ideologues.

The president mentioned the short-term improvement in annual deficits, but the national debt remains colossal and went unmentioned. The president and congressional leaders need to make a deal to tackle the debt or risk jeopardizing the rebounding economy. Escalating debt will mean higher interest rates, a lower standard of living, stagnant wages, cuts to social safety-net programs and an increased tax burden on future generations.

As a former member of Congress from Louisiana, I understand how hard it is to pass meaningful legislation in a hyper-partisan Congress, but I know it can and must be done. We don’t want to have to tell our grandchildren that we knew the debt was a problem but failed to do anything about it. Fixing the debt problem is long overdue. It is time for Congress and the White House to act. Now is the time!

Charlie Melancon

former member of Congress, Third District

Baton Rouge