Zen deficit reduction?
The American public may have just convinced Congress to do a better job in negotiating deficit reduction the next time around
Sunday’s Washington Post had this very hopeful front page story, with several quotes that give me optimism about the willingness of members of Congress to just do better in their deficit reduction negotiations the next time around. See, it turns out that the great peer pressure of the American public actually works. Skeptics may ask why the next round should be any different from the last round–it’s not like we were lacking bipartisan policy ideas the last time around–but as the story and in particular Alice Rivlin explain, this time around really is different, politically, just because we’ve already lived through the last time around:Skip to next paragraph
'EconomistMom' (Diane Lim Rogers) is Chief Economist of the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan, non-profit organization which advocates for fiscal responsibility, and the mom of four (amazing) kids to whom she dedicates her work. She’s been blogging since Mother’s Day 2008.
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Committee members might be eager to have their deliberations at least appear less rancorous than the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling that resulted in the panel’s creation.
But the tone of comments also suggests that after that hard-fought battle there might be a brief moment of opportunity to do what has eluded other bipartisan panels and special fiscal commissions.
“There’s a potential for a bipartisan deal here. There has been for a while,” said Alice Rivlin, a former White House budget director who chaired the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force. “The new element is the revulsion of the country and the world at the spectacle that we have just lived through.”
And despite being labeled by some (based on his overall voting record) as the “most liberal” of the super committee members, congressman Xavier Becerra doesn’t seem at all stuck in any ideological bunker when he puts it this way:
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) pledged to “be as open as possible, check my ego and my preconditions at the door and let the work of the committee drive us to a conclusion.”
It’s consistent with my column in today’s Tax Notes (subscription-only access to my column here), where I put on my yogi hat (while sitting at my budget analyst desk) and explain the tremendous potential, still, for base-broadening, deficit-reducing tax reform to come out of the super-committee round of the debt limit deal:
Having spent the past weekend in a yoga workshop where I was encouraged to look at the positive, let me try an “isn’t it great that . . .” perspective on this debt limit deal. Isn’t it great that policymakers on both sides of the aisle and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t solve the whole problem this time around? They clearly weren’t ready to, and if they had committed to policies anyway, they surely wouldn’t have been well thought out. Importantly, taxes probably would have been off the table for good.