Fri 3 Dec 2010
On December 1, 2010, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued its report. The Washington Post reported just a few minutes ago that at this morning’s meeting of the commission that commission members voted 11-7 in favor of the report, 3 votes shy of the number that would have forced congressional consideration of the report. Still, this final vote was far larger than many expected.
Clearly, something has to be done. It also appears that the necessity of action has finally cracked the national consciousness and it’s going to be hard for Congress to ignore (see David Broder’s piece in the Washington Post this week entitled A bipartisan end to fiscal denial). This is very good news. It’s also good news that there was support on the commission from both the left (Senator Durbin) and the right (Senator Coburn). The support appears enough to be able to get the ball rolling. I particularly applaud Senator Coburn for his vote — it shows a courageous politician in a time when such courage appears in very short supply.
On the subject of the Deficit Commission’s recommendations are two pieces in this morning’s Washington Post. One is an Op-ed entitled Saving the American Dream by Senator Judd Gregg. The other, and a more important read, is Steven Pearlstein’s We need a grand compromise on the deficit, not hyperbole. I am in strong agreement with Mr. Pearlstein’s remarks, with the exception of Pearlstein’s endorsement of an amended plan offered by Andy Stern, a former president of the Service Employees International Union who as a member of the commission who voted “no” this morning. I am not familiar with Mr. Stern’s alternate proposal.
What I know is something has to be done. With the majority proposal released this week and the ideas that have already been put on the table by others, including those of the Domenici-Rivlin Task Force of the Bipartisan Policy Center, the ideas are out there. It is time for Congress to act. As pointed out by Mr. Erskine this week, and reported by Mr. Broder in the link to his Op-ed above, “the era of deficit denial in Washington in over”. As pointed out by Mr. Pearlstein, the economic imperative in clear, both in terms of the country’s long and short-term economic future.
Let’s get on with it.