Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio says Washington lawmakers need to look at themselves in the mirror and re-evaluate their political motivations.
On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Kasich suggested that Washington politicians were acting out of their own individual political interests rather than those of their constituents, and called on them to "start thinking about how they're going to feel about themselves when they leave" office.
"At the end of the day you look yourself in the mirror and you say to yourself, 'Did I do what was right for families and for children? If I paid a political price, so what?'"Kasich said. "I mean, there's too much posturing. There's too much thinking about your party, yourself."
Kasich (who was joined on the show by fellow governors Deval Patrick, D-Mass., and Scott Walker, R-Wis., as well as Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles) echoed a recurring sentiment during the program: Outside of Washington, the guests suggested, lawmakers of all stripes are able to solve economic problems by working together and making tough choices.
"I think in cities and states, you're seeing a lot less of the polarization, the ideological warfare that you see in the Beltway," argued Villaraigosa. "Really solving problems. I like to say, [voters] elect legislators to talk. They elect mayors and governors to act."
Referencing ongoing debates over how best to reduce the U.S. deficit - which are tied to talks over raising the debt ceiling - Villaraigosa accused Congress of having its "head in the sand."
"We're dithering with default, on the verge of frankly jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States of America," he said. "Because Democrats won't address entitlements, Medicare and Social Security, and Republicans don't want to talk about revenues or defense spending.
"The fact is, we've got to do all of that<" he said. "The fact of the matter is, a mayor or a governor understands that you've got to find that middle course. You can't avoid your responsibility of balancing the budget."
Grounding the argument in moral terms, Walker argued that Washington politicians were putting their political futures ahead of the interests of the next generation.
"All too often in Washington, they're thinking about the next election," he said. "We need to think about the next generation and not just the next election."
"I've got 11-year-old daughters," added Kasich. "I'm worried about them. The people in Washington have got to put aside ... all this political consideration and start thinking about how they're going to feel about themselves when they leave.
"When I left Washington, I felt good about my service," he continued. "I took some hits because of what I've done. I've taken hits out here in Ohio. You know what? When I wake up in the morning and I realize that... when I think that my motives are right in terms of lifting people, that's what you have to do."
"We've lost a lot of that ability to talk to one another as people," Kasich added, of Congressional members.
Walker also argued that Washington's failure to act was hampering state governments' abilities to advance economically.
"It's been weighing down the successes that we've had in each of our respective jurisdictions," Walker continued. "Right now there's not a lot of courage in the Beltway. We need it. We see it in our states. We see it in our cities. We need to have it in Washington... We need to have a federal government that works together, that gets the job done."
Patrick suggested that Americans cared about results - not partisan ideologies.
"People want to know that their government sees them, that they're worried about them, that we're serving every day for them," he said. "That means not just cutting programs and doing the sort of abstract policies we've been talking about - it's about making investments that are going to help them help themselves.
"The president has taken that balanced approach," Patrick argued. "If the Congress will work with him, then our best days are ahead."