Four Reasons Why the Bowles-Simpson Commission Has to be Considered a Failure

I’ll have much more about this on Tuesday in my weekly column in Roll Call but, for now…

  1. The Bowles-Simpson commission was created on a pass-fail basis. Get 14 votes and you pass; get less than 14 votes and you fail. The plan was only supported by 11 commissioners so the math isn’t that hard.
  2. The 11 members of the commission who favored the plan likely overstates the actual amount of support. It seems clear that at least two and maybe more announced their support only when they were certain the plan wouldn’t get 14 votes. Their approval was more about political posturing for the future than actual enthusiasm.
  3. Don’t read too much into the bipartisan support for some of the options. If these same proposals are considered at all, they will next be debated in a very different political context and in a package that will look very different from the one the commission considered. Support for them in the commission is no indication they will be supported again.
  4. Don’t read too much into the enthusiastic response the plan received from various deficit hawk groups. Many of them supplied the commission with staff, helped develop what ultimately was proposed, and had a stake in its outcome. Under these circumstances, their enthuisastic approval and attempt to define the outcome as a success is not at all suprising. It’s also not especially indicative of any larger movement toward what was proposed.

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About Stan Collender 126 Articles

Affiliation: Qorvis Communications

Stan Collender is a former New Yorker who, after getting a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, moved to Washington to get it out of his system. That was more than 30 years ago.

During most of his career, Collender has worked on the federal budget and congressional budget process, including stints on the staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees; founding the Federal Budget Report, a newsletter that was published for almost two decades; and for the past 11 years writing a weekly column for and now

He is currently a managing director for Qorvis Communications, where he spends most of his time working with and for financial services clients.

Visit: Capital Gains and Games

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