On twelve Members of Congress sits the dragon of our deficit. But the Supercommittee tasked with deciding how to slay this dragon before it consumes us all has a rather large obstacle: No one has offered to risk his own neck to slay the dragon.
The Tea Party and Republicans say, starve the beast by slashing its appetite, choking its energy and shrinking it over time, even if that means others must suffer. Backed by the no-tax-pledge signers in the Republican Party, they are committed to killing the dragon at any cost -- except contributing themselves to the dragon's demise.
The other party -- represented by the Democrats and, now, the Occupy Wall Street movement -- says we can live with the beast if those who have the most can give more to sate the dragon and make it less deadly.
Government and unionized workers say the dragon is a nice dragon -- they just want the rich to eat less caviar and give the dragon more food.
AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka came out swinging by calling the deficit a "fabricated" crisis and swearing to oppose any cuts to entitlements. The AARP, supposedly representing the views of 40 million older Americans, also has demanded that the Supercommittee not to make any cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Again, let someone else slay the dragon.
One false dragon slayer, Warren Buffett, pretended to offer himself and his income as the valiant hero on the op-ed pages of the New York Times. "While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks," he wrote, before calling for a tax hike on income above $1 million. What Mr. Buffett didn't call for is an elimination of the charity loophole, which millionaires and billionaires like him exploit to shield their money from the IRS.
But, more important, Mr. Buffett is already a billionaire. What about the millions of Americans out there who wouldn't mind becoming, if not billionaires, at least wealthy and successful? By taxing capital gains and dividends, Mr. Buffett would make the United States less attractive to investment, which would further reduce our competitive advantage. It's those investments in U.S. corporations that allow our great nation to create wealth -- and millionaires out of middle-class entrepreneurs.
The home builders, the real estate agents, the insurance companies, the non-taxed, the old, the poor and the rich have all lined up to demand a strong economy, great government and preservation of their special benefits. And they all say someone else must pay for it.
Who has been silent? They are the men and women who have risked -- and are risking -- their lives and limbs fighting dragons overseas; and the youth who will inherit a debt that will choke their future with the smoldering embers of today's glutinous spending.
More, the small businesses and entrepreneurs who create jobs have been quiet too. So have the vast majority of Americans who were raised by a generation which sacrificed for them. Instead, interest groups have the ear of Washington, and no one agrees to sacrifice.
No political leaders are calling for shared sacrifice. Some call of the elimination of the Bush tax cuts, but no entitlement cuts. Others refuse any tax hike, but want to gut entitlements. Our leadership is AWOL. We can't even cut mail service from six to five days in a day and age when the Internet has made the U.S. Postal Service increasingly irrelevant.
One group of Americans who defy the entrenched interests has said, "Put our country first." Since its inception, No Labels has said nation before party. They want the dragon slayed and call on everyone to pitch in to get the job done. Please join them. Do it for your children.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream."
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