WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats and Republicans should work together to find new ways to end poverty, curb government corruption and strengthen families, Rev. Jim Wallis said Saturday.
"Answering the call to lift people out of poverty will require spiritual commitment and bipartisan political leadership," Wallis, the head of the liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal, an evangelical social justice movement, said in the weekly Democratic radio address.
"Real solutions must transcend partisan politics," he said. "It is time to find common ground by moving to higher ground."
President Bush has signaled his readiness to consider Democratic priorities such as a federal minimum-wage increase with certain amendments and to find compromise on renewing the No Child Left Behind education law and overhauling immigration policy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was pleased the nonpartisan Wallis gave the address — even though the religious leader has been openly critical of Democratic politicians and titled his best-selling book "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" — because Democrats "need to move beyond partisanship in Washington and find common ground to move America forward."
In the address, Wallis stressed the spiritual underpinnings of issues facing the new Congress, saying leaders need a "new, morally centered discourse on politics."
"Corruption in government violates our basic principles," he said. "Money and power distort our political decision-making and even our elections."
He said protecting the environment is a "moral and religious question" and that changing U.S. policy in Iraq is essential.
"Leaders in both parties are acknowledging that the only moral and practical course is to dramatically change the direction of U.S. policy, starting with an honest national debate about how to extricate U.S. forces from Iraq with the least possible damage to everyone involved," Wallis said.
He also suggested both parties could find common ground on the divisive issue of abortion.
"Wouldn't coming together to find common ground that dramatically reduces the number of abortions be better than both the left and the right using it as an issue to divide us?" he asked.
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