Will deficit commission reach a consensus?

November 10, 2010

Yesterday, we gave you the who, what, why, and when of the Administration’s “Fiscal Commission.”  Today, The Washington Post reports on the growing cynicism the panel will reach a consensus on a set of deficit reduction proposals – and even slimmer hope Congress would act on the recommendations.

Below is an excerpt from The Washington Post article; please click here to read the entire piece.

After a political campaign focused heavily on the dangers of the mounting national debt, some of the best minds in Washington are about to roll out recommendations for bringing government borrowing under control.

Three separate commissions stocked with budget experts from both parties plan to issue reports over the next four weeks, culminating with the president’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform on Dec. 1.

Despite promises that Congress could vote this year on a deficit-reduction plan, neither resurgent Republicans nor disheartened Democrats are holding out much hope that Obama’s commission can reach agreement on a strategy for addressing one of the public’s top economic priorities. Nor are they optimistic that lawmakers facing a showdown over taxes will have the stomach to tackle the deficit.

“I hope that happens, but you’ve got to think that’s going to be kind of tough,” said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), an advocate of balanced budgets who is retiring at the end of the year. More likely, Bayh said, is that lawmakers will put off consideration of any big ideas on the deficit until next spring, when Congress will have to raise the legal limit on government borrowing above the current cap of $14.3 trillion.

In interviews, commission members from both parties expressed doubts about the panel’s ability to forge a consensus that could be immediately considered by Congress. “It’s hard. Very hard,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a commission member and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said Tuesday.

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