The Exquisite Pointlessness of the Conrad/Gregg Commission Proposal

I don’t think that arguing over whether we should or should not fear the proponents of a deficit commission is very productive. After all, if you look at what Conrad and Gregg have agreed to it’s clearly not going to do anything and there’s no reason for liberals to play the role of scapegoat by refusing to agree to the creation of a doomed-to-fail commission. Read their press release:

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Importantly, the task force would ensure a bipartisan outcome. Broad bipartisan agreement would be required to move anything forward. Fourteen of the 18 Task Force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. And final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.

“Our Bipartisan Fiscal Task Force is designed to get results,” said Conrad and Gregg.

As Jon Chait points out there’s something very strange about their apparent belief that the impediment to broad reform in the United States is that it’s too easy to get bills through congress. The whole commission concept has been sold as a way of streamlining the dysfunctional legislative process, but what we have here is a proposal to make it more dysfunctional: “if that fails, maybe they’ll conclude the process was too easy. Next time they could also require the commission members to create a cold fusion reactor or retrieve a magical ring from inside a volcano.”

I think the easiest way to make sense of this is that commission proponents are hoping to use the fact that liberals won’t give them their pet commission as a reason to block progressive priorities. But this isn’t a commission worth blocking.