The Commission That Couldn't Shoot Straight

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Heh. Ezra notes that the Conrad-Gregg "reduce the deficit" group will require 14 of 18 votes to pass any recommendations, then a supermajority in the Senate and then a supermajority on the House:

This is the legislative equivalent of cooking a meal with one hand tied behind your back. The process is harder than usual and rich with new veto points. It's as if Conrad and Gregg concluded that reducing the deficit is too easy and that Congress needed a challenge. "Next time, they could also require the commission members to create a cold fusion reactor or retrieve a magical ring from inside a volcano," says Jon Chait.

Lawmakers have a peculiar resistance to admitting the problems afflicting their institution. There needs to be a Conrad-Gregg entitlement commission because bipartisanship has broken down. In response, Conrad and Gregg are setting a higher bar for bipartisanship? It's like trying to cure the flu by competing in a triathlon. You can respond to the breakdown of bipartisanship by making bipartisanship less necessary (say, by ending the supermajority requirement) or by trying to attack the roots of polarization. But this doesn't make any sense. If you're a deficit hawk, it's arguably worse than nothing, as it will make people think something is being done when nothing is actually happening.

I feel like I'm the kind of person who should be interested in "bipartisanship." But whenever I hear a politician blathering about it, I feel like they've got a hand in my pocket. This has all the odor of branding, and not a whiff of seriousness.  

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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