Oh, Goody

Another bipartisan commission? don't we have enough problems?

By streiff Posted in Comments (17) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

If you were alive during the 1980s you’ve had your fill of “bipartisan commissions” to address serious and seeming intractable political issues. These “commissions” are all based on the idea that politicians will make the tough choices necessary if only they don’t have to take any responsibility for their decisions.

Today being a Monday finds Warren Rudman and Bob Kerrey shopping a new “bipartisan commission” to secure, as they say, our nation’s financial future. One would have thought that they’d done enough damage already.

Read on.

Political realities explain why nothing has been done about this. Changing course would require substantial spending cuts from projected levels or equivalent tax increases. Neither party wants to be the first to propose these tough choices out of fear that the other side would attack it. Similarly, neither side wants to discuss possible compromises of its own priorities, out of fear that the other side will take the concessions and run. Unfortunately, these fears are justified.

I am a believer in representative democracy and I distrust and oppose rule by philosopher-kings. This is why I am a conservative. Admittedly it isn’t a perfect system but anyone who has ever witnessed school desegregation executed by court order, or wetlands described by the Army Corps of Engineers, or had their home condemned to make way for a shopping center would tend to prefer being governed by people fearful of being called into account for their actions rather than by people who are immune from the effects of their outrages and miscalculations.

Personally, I prefer my Congress a bit on the gutless side. I think it is healthier when employees are a little fearful of their employers. I feel safer at night as does my bank account.

Since the regular legislative process seems incapable of dealing with the impending crisis, some alternative has to be found. President Bush has suggested a commission. Having served on many commissions, we understand their potential value. We also understand how they can go wrong. In our view, a new commission could be very useful, but only if it recognizes fiscal and political realities.

Sure they can be useful in the way a magician diverts your attention to his left hand as his right is pulling off the magic trick. I would contend that if we simply burned all the copies of reports produced by previous bipartisan commissions we could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) have put forward a proposal that satisfies most of these elements. They would create a bipartisan commission with a broad mandate to examine long-term fiscal challenges. All policy options would be on the table. The commission would solicit input from the public and develop legislation that Congress and the president would be required to act on. Its work would address four key concerns: the unsustainable gap between projected spending and revenue, the need to increase national savings, the implications of foreign ownership of U.S. government debt and the lack of emphasis on long-term planning in the budget process.

Hmmm. The commission would produce legislation “Congress and the president would be required to act on.” I guess this is where the magic wand comes in. One would think Warren frickin Rudman, one of the authors of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act would be smart enough to know that there is no mechanism to make the Congress or President act if they are determined not to act.

The Wolf-Voinovich proposal has been greeted with silence or outright hostility. It deserves better. This is a serious proposal by two leaders who regard the debt burden and draconian policy options we are leaving to future generations as a moral stain on our nation's character.

Silence and hostility seems about right to me.

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Oh, Goody 17 Comments (0 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Government is the problem, tax increases are the answer. They can shimey and shake but that's where it all ends up, taxing the parents of those future generations.

Commissions, unemployment insurance for ex politicians, frauds, failures, and blowhards with one track minds.

"a man's admiration for absolute government is proportinate to the contempt he feels for those around him". Tocqueville

A bipartisan commission to study the effectiveness of bipartisan commissions.

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong." - Winston Churchill

How can we miss them when they won't go away?

Alternatively, I have a better idea for these professional know-it-alls - why don't they run for office and get elected (again)? Then they can actually be a part of the actual bodies that are charged by our actual Constitution to make actual laws?

Then again, being that most of these blowhards were at some point members of congress, perhaps they know first hand just how "effective" are said Constitutional means for making law.

For their information - that's a feature, not a bug.

Bah! Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

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"I don't know." -- Helen Thomas, when asked by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "Are we at war, Helen?"

To quote Ann Coulter: "We're already paying the salaries of a permanent 535-member bipartisan commission, called the United States Congress." Why can't they just hold hearings, bring in their experts, and hash things out in the open? When I hear about new commissions with binding resolutions, I have a right to be concerned; sounds like somebody's about to pull the wool over my eyes.

On the same hand, I have a solution for those who want a "bipartisan" policy guideline on the cheap: why not just bring in one politically-schizophrenic person with expertise in the field, and let them argue themselves? (Heck, I'd be willing to volunteer for such a task... being a former Democrat, still self-described liberal, yet a member of the College Republicans and have worked on campaigns of Republican and Libertarian candidates... granted, the veneer would probably only last as long as Democrats realize that I don't define "liberal" the same way they do, hehe)

"I could explain, but that would be very long, very convoluted, and make you look very stupid. Nobody wants that... except maybe me."

in their assessment of the problem. What the correct solution is I don't know. But if it takes some silly commission to give Congress cover to fix things then thats a small price to pay.

The only way out of the trap we've dug ourselves is a combination of benifit cuts and tax increases.

1. Kerry and Rudman are both LIBERALS.

2. They want an evenly balance commission instead of Ann Coulter's correct notation about the permanent standing commission also know as the U.S. Congress, because that gives liberals more power than they currently have on that "permanent standing commission."

3. When is the last time that a commission ever really came up with a list of proposals that would really fix a problem? Hello - doesn't anyone remember what a sham the 9/11 Commission was? Or what about the president's tax reform commission?

Welfare Reform is the last example of real government reform that we can point to, and it was the result of a bitter partisan battle that conservatives won in the realm of ideas, and Bill Clinton is now trying to take credit for. We must do the same with the budget in re: privatizing social security and medicare and slashing the federal budget.

1) So what? Their description of the problem is either correct or not. It happens to be correct. The government will be consuming 50% of GDP unless entitlements are reformed.

2) Liberals make up a majority of the current US Congress. They will probably make up a majority of any "50/50 Republican/Democrat" commission.

3) We must do the same with the budget in re: privatizing social security and medicare and slashing the federal budget.

There is not even a majority in the Republican party in favor of this, let alone in the country. Politics is the art of the possible. It is simply not politically possible to slash the federal budget. If it is 30% of GDP twenty years from now we can count ourselves extremely lucky.

If we can get a deal trading a reduction in benifits and a partial move to private accouts for an increase in SSI deductions, then we should take it. It would be a good move politically, and more important, it would be in the best interests of the country.

worry for the future.

So many people so sure of so many facts that are wrong.

1) Their analysis and solution mix is very much like a French military analysis: Perfect on the nature of the problem, and 100% wrong about what to do about it. A fearful commission hidden from the public eye is even less likely to produce proper policies than a fearful commission in the public eye. At least the fearful commission in the public eye might be afraid of getting it wrong. There is no such fear behind closed doors or in smoke filled rooms.

2) Conservatives make up a plurality of Congress, while moderates are the second largest percentage. This leaves liberals in last place, nowhere near a majority. It is only the amplification of their voices through a woefully biased media that even begins to make them appear to be a majority.

3) The majority of Republicans are in favor or just these changes, but since the minority of Republicans opposed to them will join the unified leftist Democrats, there is no way to move the proposal forward.

Oh, and government will never consume 50% of GDP, because when it begins to approach those numbers, government will collapse. What replaces it will probably be worse than what we have, but those are the breaks.

Conservatives make up a plurality of Congress, while moderates are the second largest percentage. This leaves liberals in last place, nowhere near a majority.

The majority of Republicans are in favor or just these changes, but since the minority of Republicans opposed to them will join the unified leftist Democrats, there is no way to move the proposal forward.

Since the latter, your point 3, is what basically what I said, I'm not sure why you think you are disagreeing with me. "Moderates" is a polite term for Republican liberals. All of the Democrats and some significant share of the Republicans are opposed to the whole "slashing government" idea, as are similar proportions of the public. I don't share your belief that the "majority" of Republicans in Congress are interested in scrapping Social Security, but thats a matter of opinion.

The point is that the whole issue is logjammed. The problem is real, but there is no majority sufficient to address it.

..government will collapse. What replaces it will probably be worse than what we have, but those are the breaks.

That seems like a remarkably flippant attitude. In the event that conservatives want to head off such an event they need to start taking action now. Persisting in the fiction that there is public support for slashing government may be emotionally satisfying in the short term, but will lead to ruin in the long term. This is the same kind of self-delusion which the left wing of the Democrats are engaging in. Supposedly we are more practical than that.

A fearful commission hidden from the public eye is even less likely to produce proper policies than a fearful commission in the public eye.

What would you consider "proper policies"? What is your proposal for getting them enacted into law? Would they be popular with the American people?

I'm reminded of some words by Hayek.

Probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence by some liberals on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principles of laissez faire.

By "liberal" he meant what we call "fiscal conservative".

If this Congress were serious about fiscal reform,they woldn't have passed the Medicare Part D legislation because we can't afford it on top of the tax cuts.
medicare and health costs generally simply can't continue on the existing excess cost growth curve. According to the Trustee report this year,Medicare will grow to where it costs more than what the government currently collects in revenue.
Medicare is the issue,not Social Security.

It's too sad to cry about,might as well laugh.

You have it half right! You said:

If this Congress were serious about fiscal reform,they woldn't have passed the Medicare Part D legislation because we can't afford it on top of the tax cuts.

Congress should not have passed the Medicare Part D because it is the most massive entitlement ever foisted upon the American people and it promises to bankrupt the Medicare system.

The tax cuts have nothing to do with it! Nice try, but no cigar for you!

See The World In HinzSight!

Well.DAH from mich,I don't much care for cigars (cigarettes are a more effective nicotine delivery vehicle) so I'm not too sad about your criticism. However,you failed to offer up any information in rebuttal.

I could,I suppose simply say,you're completely wrong,since I'm completely correct. But I'll go further than you. Go read the report from the Treasury Dept. issued 7/25/06 called "Dynamic Analysis of the Permanent Extension of the President's Tax Relief."

If you read it,you'll see that the Treasury thinks that the Pres. tax cuts raise GDP by 0.7% over the long term. On an economy our size (almost $13 trillion) that works out to about $91 billion. At current tax rates (use the AMT of 28%),you get $25 billion in tax revenue increase for a $200 billion tax revenue decrease.

In other words DAH,tax cuts do not pay for themselves. It's only the innumerate like you who have been sold this particular bill of goods even though you get no real benefit from it. Want a cigar?

It's too sad to cry about,might as well laugh.

We should do it, maybe another four or five times over the next few years.

And cut the net reductions from spending.

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If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

I'm enjoying my tax cuts. If you aren't enjoying yours, why don't you send them back to the IRS? They do accept voluntary contributions, you know. Of course you wouldn't know that since nobody on the left seems to want to pay taxes... at least unless they can force other people to pay more than they have to.
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"I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson

My goodness,what inferences you do make. You are as wrong about my politics as you are about the tax cuts. Deficits have to be financed and maybe you don't care about paying interest at rates higher than you have to but since it's my money too,I'd just as soon pay less interest.And for so long as the annual deficits exceed the growth in GDP,higher rates will be the result.
Congress gets the usual pass because everybody thinks the issue is about the president. It's not. It's Congress' inability to do what's needed to cut spending if taxes are going to be cut.

Just because you can't do math,don't expect everyone else to be like you.
By the way,no matter where you stand,the bottom 40% (income)of US households pay no income taxes at all. I can like the extra money in my pocket,but not so much if it's just a loan at rates I know are going up.
It's too sad to cry about,might as well laugh.

I'm just a stupid Republican. What could I possibly know about anything?

I have a really hard time feeling bad that those who pay no income tax at all are missing out on tax cuts.

Enjoy your reality-based community where consumer interest rates have everything to do with the amount of bonds the treasury sells, and nothing to do with, oh, I don't know, the Federal Funds Rate.

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"I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson

Poor guy,I see you can't read either.

It's too sad to cry about,might as well laugh.

 
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