« links for 2010-01-19 | Main | Taxing Bailed-Out Financial Institutions »

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Deal Reached on Deficit Commission

I don't see this as good news:

White House, Democratic lawmakers cut deal on deficit commission, by Lori Montgomery, Washington Post: Faced with growing alarm over the nation's soaring debt, the White House and congressional Democrats tentatively agreed Tuesday to create an independent budget commission and to put its recommendations for fiscal solvency to a vote in Congress by the end of this year. ...

Under the agreement, the commission would have 18 members, including six lawmakers appointed by congressional Democrats and six lawmakers appointed by congressional Republicans. Obama would appoint six others, only four of whom could be Democrats.

Fourteen commission members would have to agree on any deficit-reduction plan, a prospect that skeptics called a recipe for gridlock because action would depend on the support of at least two Republicans for a plan that is sure to include tax increases. ...

Has this worked in the past?:

The Bipartisan Panel: Did It Really Work?, by Jackie Calmes, NYT: The White House has joined some senators in a claim that upends an old saw. If there is no will among politicians to resolve budget problems, they argue, there is nonetheless a way — through a bipartisan commission. ...
Washington’s shelves are full of unheeded commission reports gathering dust. Yet after more than a quarter-century, the supposed success of the 1982-83 Greenspan Commission to save Social Security continues to inspire calls for bipartisan panels.
But just in time for the latest debate, the unpublished posthumous memoir of a central figure on the Greenspan panel, Robert M. Ball, a former Social Security commissioner, has emerged to challenge the conventional wisdom about its achievement.
In a sprightly account promoted by former staff members from both parties, Mr. Ball calls the Greenspan Commission a failure. As he tells it, only a willingness to compromise by the two principal antagonists of the time — Ronald Reagan, the Republican president, and Representative Thomas P. O’Neill, the Democratic House speaker — made it possible for Mr. Ball and a few others to salvage from the deadlocked panel a deal that raised payroll taxes and trimmed benefits enough to keep Social Security solvent.

“A commission is no substitute for principled commitment,” wrote Mr. Ball...

The deficit hawks on the right have their sights set on Medicare and Social Security, and the administration seems far too willing to allow these programs to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations (and to give into the right's insistence that spending cuts - except for the military - take precedence over tax increases). Unless the administration takes a turn away from the tendencies it has shown in the past, this seems to be headed in that direction.

    Posted by on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:47 PM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (30)


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.