StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

Do I Now Support a Deficit Commission?

15 Jan 2010
Posted by Bruce Bartlett

Readers of this blog know that I have been at best lukewarm to the idea of a congressional deficit commission. (See here and here.) However, when I read such incredibly stupid and self-serving criticisms of the commission as these, it makes me start to think that maybe the commission isn't such a bad idea after all.

"...a veiled attempt to lure

"...a veiled attempt to lure Republicans into taking joint
ownership of massive tax increases to pay for their crisis..."

'Cause we wouldn't want Republicans to participate in fixing up their crisis.

Bruce, How Bad Will It Get?


The is reporting that there are not 60 votes in the Senate to set up the commission. In your opinion, how close will we get to the brink of a fiscal calamity before people wise up?

When Will It Happpen?

I have long believed that serious deficit reduction will only occur when actual economic conditions in the form of inflation and high interest rates force action. At that point, the political payoff of deficit reduction in terms of plausibly bring down inflation and high interest rates will offset the political pain of deficit reduction. Given current economic conditions, that means we are years away from meaningful action to reduce the deficit absent leadership that is nowhere in evidence.

Totally agree

Total agreement from here on that.

It is against the interest of all politicians in both parties to be responsible for causing pain to voters by dealing with the deficit -- and will remain so until the day comes when that pain is less than the pain that voters will feel before the next alternate year election from not dealing with the deficit.

Both parties have demonstrated that amply.

The one issue they act in perfect bipatisan agreement upon, year in and year out, is to never mention the $60 trillion implicit debt that they've already run up, which by 2030 will require a 50% across-the-board income tax increase to service according to CBO, as it becomes explicit.

Hey, if the voters became aware of that then one party couldn't reap votes by promising ever more tax cuts and the other couldn't by creating new trillion-dollar entitlements.

So they perfectly agree... "Shussssh, neither of us will mention it, and it will occur on somebody else's watch after we are gone."

And they are right, it will!

See, politicians are entirely rational about their self- interest, and bi-partisanship works fine when it is in their self-interest.

So no meaningful reform will occur until the crisis hits. In fact, it's near certain they will make things only worse until then -- just as they are today.

Because that's the only rational way for them to behave, given how the incentives affect their interests.

Yep, what we need is a

Yep, what we need is a congressional deficit commission. What a waste of time, money, and media coverage.

Congress: there's no fiscal accountability, no term limits, no discussions concerning tax reform (why when taxes can be used as an instrument of social policy), and no moral grounding.

Face it; short of a major heart attack this patient will continue travel down the road to ruin.

It's time to call the VOTERS to account

The political landscape of the past 40 years is littered with the corpses of elected officials at all levels of government who dared to speak the truth regarding fiscal discipline, trade policy, national security etc and paid the price at the next election. At some point, the voters must take responsibility for their decisions. Given the increasing level of discourse on public policy, they can no longer claim to be voting in ignorence. It does not take a rocket scientist to identify which candidates are willing to represent the people in an effort to make difficult tradeoffs between realistic alternatives, and which are simply pandering by insisting the voters can have everything they want with no painful choices if government will only: tax the rich, cut all taxes, keep America for Americans, embrace the global community, make national security out top priority, cut wasteful defense spending etc etc...choose your panecea. The voters have frequent opportunities to choose between statesman and panderers and they almost invariably choose the one who promises the most for the least cost, no matter how unrealistic the promise. Which is one of the reasons it is getting ever more difficult to recruit decent candidates to run for elective office.

It is not "the" government, it is "OUR" government. They are not "the" elected officials. They are "OUR" elected officials. We do not need to hold "Them" responsible. We need to hold "OURSELVES" responsible. If we continually vote for candidates with promises that are too good to be true, we have only ourselves to blame when the leaders we choose put us on a path to disaster.

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