Nostalgists for some imagined, bygone era of bipartisanship don’t hold out a lot of hope for the deficit commission. They’re right, but for the wrong reasons.
With a few exceptions, blue-ribbon presidential commissions are dismissed as window dressing, a polite way to kick the can down the road on a particular issue. Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is just such a one.
Disappointed that the commission won’t have the power to force an up-or-down vote in Congress, the deficit hawks call this an ominous failure of government, a further sign that Washington has forgotten how to govern. That’s a dubious proposition: Is a Congress that’s voted consistently and overwhelmingly to keep funding a wasteful, destructive, and ill-conceived “war against terrorism” in the Mideast, despite broad public opposition, for nine years now, really incapable of governing? It may be deeply misguided, but it’s certainly capable of making the proverbial “tough decisions.”
The deficit hawks are right, however, that the deficit commission doesn’t stand much chance of success. Especially of cutting Social Security, which in the wake of the new health care reform law, has become its primary target. To understand why requires a short history lesson.
The long war against Social Security, which began in the early 1980s, is now in its third phase.
Phase 1 began in 1983, Continue reading Why the Deficit Commission Won’t Cut Social Security: A History Lesson