STORY #1: Adults in the room
Fact: The original Simpson-Bowles commission only had 12 members from both chambers of Congress on it. A new, unofficial group led by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles has 47 members from each. That’s almost half of the Senate and just over 10 percent of the House. They’re working together to achieve a compromise on national debt reduction that would avert trillions of dollars in automatic cuts.
Is this what will finally work? The original commission and its successor, USConJointSelComDefRed, had two very different elements: Its members were appointed, and there were only a few. Apparently the secret to a successful debt reduction commission is letting it grow organically so it’s not really a commission. The only downside is that it has no deadline other than that of the aforementioned cuts. But a plan that’s handwritten in crayon on a paper bag is better than the big load of nothing we got last time.
STORY #2: Speaking of big loads . . .
Of course, the one person who should be leading on implementing the Simpson-Bowles recommendations is conspicuously silent. This wouldn’t be the first time, according to PolitiFact – oh, former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT), I expected better from you – as he has declined to support or reject it outright before. But Simpson went a little too easy on him for that, for my tastes: “If he had embraced our plan, he would have been ripped to shreds.”
And? It’s only natural for someone proposing ideas as painful as that to expect a political backlash. That Obama chose to avoid this by only embracing the less painful elements in public speaks volumes about his priorities. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder if presidents should be limited to one term so they don’t think about re-election at all. Get some balls, Simpson.
STORY #3: Get some Bowles, Treasury
Apparently the Beltway rumor mill has had a tidbit about Bowles being appointed Secretary of the Treasury after its current office-holder, Timothy Geithner, retires after this election. For anyone as fed up with Washington’s approach to the debt as me, the idea is better than sex. Unfortunately, Bowles said he didn’t want it, which is no surprise as the man has been Chief of Staff. I generally like to believe people who say they have no aspirations for high-profile appointments, but I really hope Bowles will change his mind if this rumor stays in the mill. It’s not good enough to have him on the periphery.