The Fiscal Commission Failed ...

... and I can tell you that before reading the final report, officially released at 9:30 this morning. Why? The members of the commission released their plan today but are going to vote on its recommendations Friday -- meaning that the whole report is now one big trial balloon. Remember that the point of the fiscal commission was to isolate the budget-making process, allowing the members to agree on a grand bargain and bring the tablets down from the mountain, so to speak. By floating the report before the vote, however, they've simply injected politics back into the process, making it even more unlikely they'll agree to its recommendations after a few days of everyone treating their final document like a piƱata.

Whether you agree with the commission's report or not, the idea was to bring together experienced people who could set aside their differences and come forward with a grand bargain, and it seems clear that they were unable to do that. Which is, ultimately, to be expected: You can't take the politics out of politics. This report has produced some good ideas (and some bad ones), and it will be up to the creaky mechanisms of government and the elected officials who inhabit them to actually enact a sustainable budget.

-- Tim Fernholz

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