As the ideological battles between the House Republicans and the President over discretionary spending continue to dominate news headlines, the real progress toward defusing America’s debt crisis is occurring more quietly in the Senate. There, a bipartisan group known as the “Gang of Six” has rallied behind the balanced blueprint produced by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Fiscal Commission).
Originally derided by some on the left and right when it issued its December 1, 2010 plan, the Fiscal Commission plan has become the only bipartisan game in town when it comes to deficit reduction. In March, 64 Senators (32 Democrats and 32 Republicans) called on the President to support a broad approach for addressing deficit problem and stated that the Fiscal Commission’s “work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt.” Shortly thereafter, ten former heads of the Council of Economic Advisers, both Republicans and Democrats, co-signed a public statement urging that the Fiscal Commission’s report “be the starting point of an active legislative process that involves intense negotiations between both parties.”
The Fiscal Commission plan includes something for everyone to dislike, but along with a real plan to cut the deficit, the proposal includes a number of reforms that break through the partisan logjam that has plagued Washington in recent years. One such reform is the Fiscal Commission’s tax reform plan, which despite reflexive opposition from conservative anti-tax groups was supported by all three Senate Republicans on the Commission.