The Most Predictable Economic Crisis In History

That’s what Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, said about our government’s ever-so-slowly-developing fiscal calamity in this Senate Budget Committee testimony. The President disavowed the findings of his commission, but it continued on in a scaled-down group of six members (all Senators) called the Gang of Six.

Now the Gang of Six is struggling, in predictable fashion (the 3 Democrats refuse to make big budget cuts, the 3 Republicans refuse to accept big tax increases, and one of them has pulled out because he fears the political consequences of compromise).  They can’t get the job done.  Not even a select group of the most-committed members of Congress is able to make the tough decisions, because they’re so tough.  We’re collecting $2.2 trillion in taxes and spending $3.7 trillion, and the voters who receive a good part of that spending will move heaven and earth to keep their unsustainable benefits.

The same point has been made again and again.  Congress can’t balance its budgets in the long term (or even, apparently, in the short term) unless we have a mechanism for forcing our legislators to do their jobs.

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