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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's a good idea that won't pass

Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 8:32 AM

Last week, a bi-partisan commission created by President Obama to explore ways of cutting the federal deficit submitted its report -- and it's probably doomed from the start.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, which included Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, worked hard and diligently to identify areas to "fix" the federal budget and the crushing national debt that has been created over the last ten years.

Having had a chance to read the report summary, it appears that this is a very good effort -- with more than $4 trillion in cuts proposed.

If adopted as a complete package, it might actually have a chance of working.

The problem is, it won't be adopted as a complete package. It will be nitpicked to death until all the hard work of this commission is destroyed.

It calls for some very tough decisions by Congress, and spreads the grief around. For example, it calls for cuts in Social Security (mainly by stopping cost-of-living increases for a while) and elimination of a large number of farm subsidies. Tobacco growers in the east and sugar beet growers in the west are major recipients of federal subsidies.

It also calls for major cuts in the military.

The Commission's members will now review the first draft proposal and continue to meet and make modifications over the coming weeks, in expectation of a vote on final recommendations by Dec. 1.

But once the completed final package goes before Congress we know what will happen. Each special interest group, such as senior citizen advocates and tobacco company lobbyists, will fight to keep their program alive. Congressmen will do enough horse trading among each other to protect each others' pet programs in their own districts that the entire package will become so watered down as to become useless.

That's too bad. Obama wanted a blueprint and the commission gave him one. But we would be enormously surprised if Congress, as a whole, suddenly grows a spine, bites the bullet, and adopts it.

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Brian S. Orban
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