Greg Ip

Articles by The Economist’s U.S. Economics Editor

The president’s deficit commission: No cigar

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Some useful ideas, but a worrying absence of political will
Dec 9th 2010 | WASHINGTON, DC | from PRINT EDITION

[Greg Ip] WHEN Barack Obama created his deficit commission one of its members, Kent Conrad, a Democratic senator, confided to his staff that he thought it had no better than a 10% chance of success. His prediction proved accurate. On December 3rd just 11 of its 18 members voted for the chairmen’s aggressive deficit-reduction proposal, well short of the 14 needed to take it forward to Congress for a vote.

Yet Mr Conrad, like many on the commission, claims that this apparent defeat was in fact a victory. After all, 11 is more than 60% of the members, and those voting for the plan included both conservative Republicans like Tom Coburn and liberal Democrats like Dick Durbin, senators from Oklahoma and Illinois respectively. The commission defied sceptics who thought its work would go unnoticed. “We’ve changed the issue from whether there should even be a fiscal plan…to what is the best fiscal plan,” said Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union and another member (though he still voted against).

Yet for all the warmth and goodwill that flowed between the commission’s members over its seven months of work, the final vote exposed the depressing truth that finding a package of higher taxes and lower spending that can satisfy both Democrats and Republicans is extremely hard, if not impossible.

The entire original article is linked here.


Written by gregip

December 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

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