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The Magic Debt Reduction Commission

Advocates of the debt reduction commission seem to be engaged in a lot of magical thinking over just how this report is going to get enacted into law. I've been eager to see one of them actually spell out how this could happen. Economist Alice Rivlin of Brookings, who's not exactly naive, has a post explaining why the commission "just may prove the right tool for galvanizing action." Here is the entire portion of Rivlin's post that makes the case why the commission might succeed:

Obviously, it would have been better if Congress had tackled the debt problem sooner through normal legislative processes or if the legislative commission proposed by Senators Conrad and Gregg had passed, not just by 53 votes in the Senate, but by the required 60. But the president, to his credit, refused to give up and decided to create a bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Commission by executive order. The Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader have promised to bring their recommendations to a vote. If the Commission works diligently to produce a viable compromise and public anxiety about the impact of rising debt on the economic future manifests itself in the election campaign, the Commission may well be the vehicle through which common sense prevails. Republicans, Democrats and independents who value fiscal and moral responsibility - and worry about their children and grandchildren - should join in wishing them well!

To break this argument down, you have a description of the process, then a completely unsubstantiated assertion that the Commission "may well be the vehicle" to reduce the deficit, then a call for everybody to wish them well. I'm not encouraged.

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