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National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform FAIL

fiscal commissionWhen the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform got underway in April, we gave it about a 9% chance of coming up with a workable solution to the nation’s debt crisis. And that was about right! Or maybe a little high…

In fact, it didn’t even come up with a report. After its proposal came out last week, the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein wrote:

Here is the most important fact about the proposal released by the co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: It is not the commission’s report. And here is the second most important fact to remember: The commission itself does not have any actual power. So what we’re looking at is a discussion draft of a proposal to balance the budget authored by two people who don’t have a vote in either the House or the Senate.

When this commission got underway, there was quite a bit of anticipation. Maybe they would come up with some groovy plan that would rocket through Congress just after the election! Maybe a Democratic lame duck Congress would use the commission’s report to ram through policies that the American public had just turned its back on!

Nothing like that happened. This thing flopped so completely that it’s hard for this writer to lift his hands to write about it. I mean, we’re talking, “Move along. Nothing to see here,” with a side order of “Zzzzzzz.”

The upshot? There’s not going to be some smooth, quick solution to the budget situation. It’s going to be a ground war over years among people who believe tax hikes are the way out, people who believe spending cuts are the way out, people who don’t mind debt all that much, and a bunch of other perspectives. Buckle up and hunker down. It all starts now. Sort of.

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Government officials need some basic education regarding economic and fiscal responsibility, one which many and perhaps most elected officials probably lack. 1. For greatest economic stability, live within your means (i.e. don’t spend more than your have). 2. If you do need to borrow money make sure it is for a project that will pay for itself (pay back the debt via tolls, or jobs that will be ultimately be self sustainable (income taxes come back to us). Note: otherwise if you are borrowing you are living above your means and will definitely have to eventually live below your means to to pay it off (foolish behavior). 3. Don’t make promises (such as entitlements) you can’t keep. These are obligations and most of us have paid quite dearly to fund our entitlements. If these entitlements are withdrawn then trust in our own government as an entity will be lost forever until it is replaced. I also have a question which begs the obvious: “Why have a debt ceiling if it is raised every time it threatens to actually be a ceiling?” (like having an imaginary friend). Let’s grow up. (I have an MBA in finance and belong to the BETA GAMMA SIGMA business school honors society).It would be nice if our motto could actually be “In Gov We Trust” wouldn’t it?

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