Now is the hour: It's time for Congress to serve the people

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This is a pivotal weekend for the U.S. Congress. As America stares helplessly down the abyss of the fiscal cliff, their lawmakers will enter the history books as either serving the people who sent them to Washington or submitting to special interests that have ground our government to a halt.

Although a perfect storm of draconian budget cuts and automatic tax increases will make landfall on Tuesday, many average Americans workers do not understand the damage that Congress' failure to act will do to their paychecks. The House, the Senate and the White House are out of time for posturing, politicking and pretending this will go away. Investment markets are down because of Washington's inaction; consumers are leery and their confidence has dropped; businesses are wracked with uncertainty and in danger of slipping into recession.

Now is the time to put an end to all this. Now is the moment for compromise as if the nation's future depended on it.

President Barack Obama, who has offered specific proposals and flexibility on both tax increases and spending cuts, hosted an eleventh-hour meeting of House and Senate leaders Friday afternoon at the White House. Now it's time for Democratic and Republican lawmakers to accept the framework of the nation's fiscal reality and broker a deal.

That means individual legislators must demonstrate incontrovertibly that their aim is to serve the public and not partisanship. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey must tell their caucus chiefs to end this cynical game of chicken. Reps. Mike Doyle, Tim Murphy, Jason Altmire, Mark Critz, Mike Kelly and Bill Shuster must let their leaders know that enough is enough.

It is time to come to terms, once and for all, on the government's debt and deficit crisis. It is time for those who have sworn to serve the American people to take their oaths to heart and deliver.

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