Now, two Washington think tanks — one left-leaning, one right-leaning — are taking a different approach. They proclaim: We differ on solutions. We agree on the problem. The federal budget is on an unsustainable trajectory. Spending over the next couple of decades, particularly on retirement and health-care benefits, will rise much faster than revenue unless Congress does something. The economy won’t expand fast enough to avoid unpleasant choices. Politicians are ducking that fact.

The message is delivered with equal conviction by budget mavens at the Brookings Institution, home of many Democrats who have been or hope to be in government, and at the Heritage Foundation, a younger think tank that is the source of many Republican talking points and proposals.

It will take more than porkbusting to address this problem, of course, but if Congress can’t even address pork it’s hard to imagine that it can deal with entitlement reform.

UPDATE: The Club for Growth reports that the Coburn Amendment is now getting bipartisan support, Even Kos is on board.

More on the Coburn Amendment here and here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Tapscott: “Mr. Smith is back in Washington, and his name is Tom Coburn.”

And don’t miss this big roundup from Sissy Willis. Meanwhile, Mike Krempasky observes:

Make NO mistake – the establishment Republicans are terrified of this bill. The chutzpah of the little people demanding an end to one of the most immoral acts of Congress – earmarked pork spending – has got some in quite the tizzy.

Word is that some are trying to stop the Coburn Amendment from even reaching the floor for a vote.

I’ll bet they are. Let’s keep the spotlight on this.

MORE: Rhode Island blogger Caroll Andrew Morse called Sens. Chafee and Reed to ask their position on the Coburn Amendment, but reports that they’re staying mum:

The staffers were very polite and professional, but both offices informed me they couldn’t share the Senator’s position until after the vote was taken.

Is this really how deliberative democracy is supposed to work? Aren’t public officials supposed to make their positions on issues, well, public?

You’d think. Let me know if you hear anything from your Senators.

MORE STILL: Reader Jim Hogue emails:

I just got off the phone with a staffer in Sen. John Cornyn’s Washington office. He (the staffer) said he had never heard of the Coburn amendment but said I was the second person to call today urging the Senator to support it. I told him about “porkbusters” and asked him to relay to the Senator that I hold responsible to remain true Texas Republican roots to reduce federal spending. He seemed genuinely bemused by my call.

Since the staffer didn’t even ask for my name, I guess I’ll call back later!!

I urge my fellow Texans to call Cornyn at 202-224-2934 or Kay Bailey Hutchinson at 202-224-5922 and let them know where they stand.

As a troubling aside, it seems to be getting harder and harder to communicate with my elected representatives. If you call direct they seldom take your name and number unless you insist on a return call. Now I’m seeing caveats on their websites about “security procedures” slowing down their ability to respond to anything other than email and they rarely answer email with anything other than a form letter; just an unverifiable perception on my part.

A lot of people seem to have the same perception.