If Congress and the Obama administration don’t reach an agreement before year’s end, income tax rates will increase automatically for every taxpayer, defense spending will be slashed, and other federal spending will be cut across the board. This could push the United States back into recession and increase unemployment from its already too-high level.

The most obvious way to get something done quickly to avert this crisis is to begin with approaches that already have received significant bipartisan support. The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives took a bold step on Dec. 3 when it announced its support for a plan advocated by Erskine Bowles.

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