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Posted at 2:07 PM ET, 11/18/2010

The failure of Simpson-Bowles

By Ezra Klein

What's odd about the sudden rash of deficit-reduction plans is that they're all being released by members of the Simpson-Bowles commission. Rep. Jan Schakowsky is on the commission, and so too is Alice Rivlin, who co-chaired the group that led to the Bipartisan Policy Group's effort (which, I believe, started its work before the Simpson-Bowles commission).

The point of the Simpson-Bowles commission wasn't full employment for budget wonks. It was consensus. Instead, the Simpson-Bowles commission has led to a further fracturing: The progressives have gone toward Schakowsky, wonkish types have moved toward Rivlin and the BPC, and the center-right has been cautiously supportive of Simpson-Bowles. Some are spinning all this as a different sort of victory. In this telling, Simpson-Bowles has kicked off a healthy discussion. And maybe it is. But it's a failure given the original goals of the project. Far from showing that we can all agree, it's proved that we can't.

By Ezra Klein  | November 18, 2010; 2:07 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Comments

That may be because Simpson-Bowles, far from being the most reasoned and thought through of proposals, actually was a slap-dash production released only because the details were about to be leaked anyway.
I think that most of the items on the list are dead as a doornail as policy.

Posted by: NYmoose | November 18, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I hear people (mostly liberals) claim the only purpose of this commission was to agree on a plan that could be passed by congress, but I don't see that mentioned in the Executive Order. It seems like it's just an excuse people are using for not agreeing with the suggestions.

Though I don't see it stated anywhere, it was A purpose to find a plan both parties could agree on, but there seems to be some ex post exaggerations of the mandate happening to discredit their report.

Posted by: FroggyJ4 | November 18, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Ezra wrote:

"But it's a failure given the original goals of the project. Far from showing that we can all agree, it's proved that we can't."

What a silly statement. That WAS the original goal of the project, to provide political cover for the inability to compromise on deficit reduction.

I despair of you Ezra!

Posted by: 54465446 | November 18, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It's tough when the president's own commission tells him to STOP SPENDING!

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | November 18, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I would dispute the contention that Simpson-Bowles is more divorced from political reality than the Rivlin report. The Rivlin reports calls for a hefty VAT when in April of this year the Senate voted 85 to 13 to support the statement that "the Senate opposes a Value Added Tax". I might add that several D and R Congressmen have expressed tentative support for Simpson-Bowles. Who now in Congress has backed Rivlin?

Posted by: bdell555 | November 18, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Remember the AmericaSpeaks exercise, those people at town meetings came up with plans, there are numerous websites were you can design your own 50 page powerpoint plan. I am sure bevis and butthead could produce their own plans.

Producing plans is not difficult, it's finding a plan that the American people think is doable and fair, that will pass the congress that is the problem, and that was their assignment.

They have failed miserably.

Posted by: cautious | November 19, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

There IS no plan that can pass Congress. No one, D or R will cut popular programs like Medicare or SS, no one will raise taxes, or EVEN let a temporary tax cut expire as the law enacting it requires.

Posted by: GreenDreams | November 19, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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