Once the Nov. 6 election is over, Congress will have less than two months to get ''our act together,'' as U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., warned last week.
During a speech last week, Manchin warned the White House and Congress simply must take decisive action to stop the $16 trillion national debt from growing. As he pointed out, the last time the debt matched the U.S. gross domestic product was right after World War II. Then, the nation was ''trying to survive,'' Manchin noted, adding, ''this time it's self-inflicted.''
He is absolutely right. A bipartisan consensus to curb deficit spending is vital to Americans' futures. Manchin may be the man to coordinate such an effort.
But of more immediate concern are a massive tax increase and automatic government spending cuts that will kick in if Congress does not stop them before Jan. 1. Still struggling to cope with the recession, tens of millions of families - and the economy as a whole - cannot cope with higher taxes. And the automatic spending cuts could cripple national security.
Regardless of how the election turns out, President Barack Obama will be president during the ''lame-duck session'' of Congress later this year. That will make it difficult to avoid the tax increases.
Manchin, who clearly understands the ''fiscal cliff'' over which the nation could plunge without decisive action by Congress, should lead the fight to make it happen.