Seeding Future Compromises

Last week Josh Barro called the deficit commission a success:

I view the Commission’s purpose as furthering a long-range process: driving an elite discussion about deficit reduction options so that, when the right economic time comes to actually close the budget gap, we have a clear vision of the steps we will need to take-and what compromises politicians will be willing to make. Viewed from this frame, the Commission has been a success, in part because it could not reach consensus and released several reports instead of one. These reports, and political players’ reactions to them, have helped to clarify those questions and identify a path toward budget sustainability.

Douthat nods:

[T]he debate over Simpson-Bowles  and the raft of alternative proposals the deficit commission’s efforts have summoned up has been helpful, clarifying, and even occasionally surprising. Now we know that liberals can wax just as intransigent about entitlements as conservatives can about tax increases. We know what the left really wants, and what the anti-tax lobby would prefer. We know what Nancy Pelosi won’t stand for, and where Tom Coburn and Dick Durbin will consider compromising. We know where Paul Ryan and Alice Rivlin can find common ground. And we know that it’s possible for prominent right-wingers, Coburn now included, to stand up to Grover “better to risk a debt crisis than end a tax subsidy” Norquist, which is inherently good news for both conservatism and the country.