Strike a deal today

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Strike a deal today

Leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition Minjoo Party on Saturday kick off last-minute negotiations to deal with contentious bills and others directly related to people’s livelihoods - both still pending at the National Assembly due to their irreconcilable differences. Lawmakers representing the two parties are Won Yoo-chul and Kim Jung-hoon (from Saenuri Party) and Lee Jong-kul and Rhee Mok-hee (from the Minjoo Party). They must find a breakthrough in the suffocating gridlock.

Voters should remember the names of those lawmakers who could not strike a deal to resuscitate our lackluster economy. If they fail to reach a compromise this time, voters must vote them down in the April 13 general election. Politics is about determining the fate of politicians based on their accomplishments, not on their motivations or procedural matters. It is natural for voters to punish floor leaders who nearly ruined the current 19th Assembly.

The leaders already agreed Thursday to deal with a special act aimed at revitalizing our economy. The remaining bills in need of their consensus are four labor reform bills, including on agency workers; the Terrorism Prevention Act; and the North Korea Human Rights Act. It is fortunate both sides struck a deal over the economic bill after a seven-month tug-of-war. The opposition Minjoo Party had to back off after confronting vehement public outrage over its opposition to the bill, claiming it could be abused for chaebol-style greedy inheritance of wealth. But the Minjoo Party is still stuck in an overly ideological mindset incompatible with the change of the times. For instance, the opposition resorted to its worn-out anti-chaebol, anti-conglomerate sentiments and backtracked on fostering entrepreneurship, creating new jobs and pushing forward desperately needed corporate restructuring.

The party must scrap its long-standing belief that as long as it chants anti-chaebol slogans, it can receive public support. Voters have turned to punish politicians bent on shouting outmoded political catchphrases, paralyzing the decision-making process of the legislature and government and obstructing the dynamics of market capitalism. The Minjoo Party’s latest flip-flop on the economic bill is attributed to the new splinter opposition People’s Party joining hands with the ruling party on the bill.

We hope the Minjoo abandon such retrogressive behavior in Saturday’s negotiation over reform bills. The Saenuri Party also must strike a deal even by making concessions, if necessary. Both must reach a compromise before it’s too late. That’s their obligation as representatives of the people.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 23, Page 30

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