Not surprisingly, Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility was unable to achieve any consensus. One of our local congressmen, Frank Wolf (VA-10), has been promoting such a commission for years (i.e., the SAFE Commission), but then rejected it once Obama decided to support the idea. And now that the commission has issued its report, he is once again silent on the topic. At least our other two representatives provided a statement on our budget.
Jim Moran (VA-8) refused to vote for the extension of any of the Bush Tax Cuts. I do not agree with Rep Moran on many things, but at least I can half-way support him on that position. If we are to balance the budget, we must share in the sacrifice. Either the Bush Tax Cuts should be repealed for all or kept for all. While I believe their is ample evidence to suggest that the Bush Tax Cuts probably have minimal or no net effect on overall government revenues (and that raising the taxes would only hurt the economy), I respect Moran's statement on this issue. Now if we can only convince him to cut spending then we can really have an effect on the budget.
Gerry Connolly (VA-11) issued a statement that was rather wishy-washy about the deficit commission's report. He applauded their efforts and said their ideas should be considered, but did not actually come out and support or reject any specific proposal. In short, he knows it is a hot topic and wants to be seen as being involved, but does not want to put his neck out.
This just further demonstrates that we need leaders in congress who are willing to make the tough decisions and who are not afraid to do what is right for this country. I am not talking about just saying that we need leaders, but leaders who are willing to present ideas of their own and be willing to defend them against the criticisms that will surely come.
Instead, we are faced with a congress that is willing to thank the commission, but then sit back and conclude that because the report did not get the "necessary" 14 votes, it really is not a recommendation. Of course, this is just a smoke screen - Congress never needed a commission to make a recommendation in the first place. If they wanted to, they could vote on the report, even though they are not official recommendations.
But even that is just one layer of the smoke screen. The reality is that the commission completely failed in its task. The proposal would have only reduced the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade - but current projections are for a $9 trillion deficit during that time frame and a debt that is projected to rise even more quickly.
With that said, I do not think the Commission's report was the right solution. In short, the commission's report increased benefits for the poor while making everyone else pay for those added benefits on top of balancing the budget. Granted, the added benefits may not have been much, but it still amounts to a redistribution of wealth. The correct solution is to share the sacrifice. Yes, some programs (e.g., military pay for lower ranks) should be protected somewhat, and other programs can be eliminated (e.g., National Endowment of the Arts), but by-and-large, all programs need to take a massive cut if we are to balance the budget.
I hope to provide a more detailed proposal in the near future.