It should support a bipartisan commission to secure the country’s fiscal future.
One message from the Massachusetts election shake-up is that the federal deficit is a higher priority for voters than healthcare. Sixty-one percent of Republican Scott Brown’s supporters thought so, and sent him to the US Senate to say so. But the Senate doesn’t have to wait until Mr. Brown takes his seat. It has an opportunity to heed voters now.
On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill that creates an independent commission to help secure the federal government’s fiscal future. Like the blue-ribbon panel that pinpointed which US military bases to close, the fiscal commission would look at the politically charged subject of how to cut mounting federal deficits that may end up as a drag on the economy.
Like the military commission, this one – if it passes Congress – would require lawmakers to vote up or down on its entire package of recommendations.
But the bill, sponsored by Democrat Kent Conrad and Republican Judd Gregg, is expected to fail. Republicans such as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell will support a commission that considers only spending cuts – not tax increases. Some Democrats, meanwhile, fear likely cuts to popular entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. And lawmakers from both parties say voting for a bill that turns budget decisions over to a panel means they abdicate their fiscal role as an elected body.