James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Can a special commission stanch America’s red ink?

November 10, 2009

I spent all morning at a Senate Budget Committee hearing looking at how to create a special commission that would devise a plan to fix America’s long-term budget shortfall. This would be like the base-closing commission where a panel — made up mostly of senators and congressman — would submit a plan to Congress that would have to be voted on — up or down, no amendments.

Among the economists and budget experts who testfied — Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Maya MacGuineas, David Walker and Willam Galston — there was widespread agreement that a) commission is a good idea, b) ObamaCare does little to change the long-run fiscal outlook for the better, c) we may be approaching the point where global financial markets rebel as American profligacy, d) Obama will have to break his campaign promise and sharply raise middle-class taxes (in addition to healthcare taxes, of course).

But it would be my guess that Team Obama is more worried today about rising unemployment than rising deficits.

Comments

We don’t need a commission. Any housewife could balance the budget. It is done every day. Commisssions are designed to give cover to politicians who know EXACTLY how it can be done but lack the guts to do it.

Posted by Pat Duggan | Report as abusive
 

Rome is still burning,
the Beltway’s been fiddling all year.

A Bi-partisan Star chamber of pragmatic (and hopefully honest) hatchet-men is what’s needed.

A sprinkling of creativity and vision among their rank would maybe help too.

Firing squad…. one bullet.

Room to hide politically for the participants. Expedience of action.

Posted by bryan | Report as abusive
 

Many Democrats probably would be fine with Carter-era tax rates on top earners and a VAT. Of course, even if those were enacted, it would just lead to more spending and debt. I doubt a commission would be enough cover to get them to vote on really tough things, like the retirement age or really reforming Medicare. At some point, voters just will have to demand that they stop being treated like children, and deal with reality of how to solve these problems. Don’t hold your breath.

 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •