Debt Commission Eying Mostly-Cuts Package

The latest from the Obama administration’s deficit commission:

[Commission Co-Chair Erskine] Bowles pointed to steps taken recently by the new coalition government in Britain, which also faces an acute budgetary problem, as a guide to the formula the commission might use in its recommendations. That would mean about three-quarters of the deficit reduction would be accomplished through spending cuts and the remainder with additional revenues.

That sounds like a classic pleases no one, goes nowhere package. Since it includes tax increases, zero Republicans will vote for it. But since it’s mostly weighted to spending cuts, most Democrats will reject it. And since it clearly won’t pass, nobody will want to stick their necks out in favor of it. Normally the fate of a proposal that nobody wants to vote for would be to just die quietly in committee, but rather perversely a clutch of “centrist” Democrats spent a lot of time earlier this congress guarantee that these proposals will come up for a vote. Consequently, electorally fearfully Democrats will have the opportunity to vote in favor of a doomed package of hideously unpopular spending cuts and tax hikes, thus dooming themselves to defeat.

As long as the conservative movement remains resolutely opposed to tax increases, any deficit reduction package would need to move on a party-line vote. And there’s no way a package like this could, would, or should garner the kind of support among liberals that would be needed to do that.