Deficit Commission Gridlock Set to Begin April 27
by Gary Therkildsen*, 3/31/2010
According to a Bureau of National Affairs article (subscription required) from earlier today, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the 18-member panel created by President Obama to devise strategies for reducing the nation's debt and deficits, have sent a letter to members informing them that the panel's first meeting will commence April 27. Formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRR?), the panel has a disastrously devised procedural process that is likely to produce either gridlock or, at best, water downed recommendations.
One of the more disheartening aspects of the commission is the members that Republican leaders have chosen to ensconce on the panel. Having watched congressional members like Sens. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) (AKA, Dr. No), and Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (of Budget Road Map fame) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) distort tax and budget issues during the health care reform debate to a point of foolishness, I'm not expecting much from them over discussions of the debt and deficits. With that said, who knows, maybe once the members get behind closed doors and roll up their shirtsleeves, they'll actually be able to come to a compromise over taxes and spending.
Of course, with midterm elections coming up in November, there's the possibility that we'll start seeing leaks in the press after the commission starts to meet – either from Democrats blasting Republicans over refusing to consider anything but spending cuts, or from Republicans slamming Democrats over proposed tax hikes. If that happens, watch the panel come to a screeching halt, and say goodbye to the slim chance the commission had of producing anything resembling worthwhile recommendations.
Image by Flickr user ulalume used under a Creative Commons license.