Sens. Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad are trying to create a bipartisan commission to reduce the federal budget deficit. OK, let's! The federal budget deficit is a beast with a many arms, but the big ones are: (1) Entitlement spending, (2) military spending and (3) taxes that don't match up with the services we've come to expect. To significantly reduce the deficit will require painful cuts to Medicare or Social Security, which seniors will hate, deep restructuring of our military, which veterans and Republicans will hate, or painful tax increases, which just about everyone will hate.
In other words this commission is already trying to walk a tight-rope between sky-scrapers in a hurricane. So you thought Gregg and Conrad would try to find a way to make this easier, didn't you? You were wrong. Instead, we get this:
Fourteen of the 18 Task Force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. And final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.
Um... requiring a super-majority will not make the tight-rope walking any easier, senators! Jonathan Chait spit-takes: "Next time they could also require the commission members to create a cold fusion reactor or retrieve a magical ring from inside a volcano." Jonathan Chait is funny, and right.
So long as the AARP and Eric Cantor are still around, deep Medicare cuts will be verboten and tax increases will be declared DOA and this thing will go nowhere. I'd be shocked if it even got to the Senate floor. It's almost as though these guys want credit for trying to find ways to rescue the country's finances without getting blamed for passing a bill that will be, inevitably, a horror show for incumbents. But no, that would be cynical...
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