I understand West Virginians' real concerns and sense of fundamental fairness. I know we can avoid the harmful impact that making all of these changes at once would have and still put ourselves on a path to truly rein in our deficit.
The good news is - many others agree. Democrats and Republicans in Congress and at the White House are working right now on an agreement that can prevent a fiscal crisis and put our economy on a sustainable path. I've reached out to my colleagues and urged all of us to commit to a set of core principles as we work to strike a deal:
| First, we must increase revenues without hurting the middle class -- by ending the tax cuts for the very wealthy and closing loopholes that benefit only the big corporations and wealthiest Americans.
| Second, we must be squarely focused on jobs, getting people back to work through investment in education and critical infrastructure, and continuing support for unemployment insurance.
| Third, we must keep our promise to the American people by protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- so many West Virginians count on these programs, and any harmful cuts would be unwise and unfair at a time like this.
In the coming weeks I believe we will resolve big questions about fiscal policies that have serious implications here in West Virginia and nationally.
It's about how we spend and generate the revenues needed to be a strong nation. It's about how we rebuild a prosperous middle class and whether we keep the door of opportunity open for those who are struggling. And it's about how we responsibly invest in our people, their jobs and our global competitiveness.
It's not just a chance to avoid a "fiscal cliff." It's a defining moment for our state and our nation.
Rockefeller is West Virginia's senior U.S. senator.