Today the Senate will take up legislation which will notionally create a bipartisan commission empowered to develop a solution to the ballooning deficit that is a direct result of fiscal malfeasance by the Obama Administration.
The Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike, should vote against this truly bad idea for a number of reasons. Two, however, stand out as primary.
First, we are a representative democracy not Plato’s Kallipolis. It is the responsibility of our elected representatives to keep the nation on a sound financial footing, not the purview of an appointed body. The history of bipartisan commissions, whether responding to fiscal distress or a national tragedy, shows they are ineffectual and their accomplishments are limited to providing ammunition for finger pointing. The notion that any commission’s recommendations are going to come to the floor of the House or Senate as is and without amendment simply insults our intelligence in addition to being a grave offense to our form of government.
Second, and most important, is that commissions are excuses for failed leadership. Now we’ve become accustomed to a leadership vacuum at 1600 Pennsylvania over the past year. The fact that we’ve become accustomed to an absence of leadership is no reason to codify that vacuum into law.
The Obama Administration is in favor of this commission because it has belatedly realized that spending money like a sailor in Olongapo in the face of a recession is not a sustainable fiscal policy Mr. Keynes’ textbooks notwithstanding. Having used the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as the equivalent of a mainline heroin shot they are now coming to grips with the pain of withdrawal. The demand for another round of stimulus spending is coming and the administration knows it has neither the courage nor political capital to resist the calls or to see its passage through Congress. This so-called commission is simply a way for the Administration to further abdicate its responsibilities while saddling the Congress, not merely Republicans in Congress, with the blame for failing to enact commission proposals.
If there is any idea which merits bipartisan opposition this is it.