A deficit of courage

Politicians should not dismiss the deficit commission’s proposal.

Daily Editorial Board

President Barack ObamaâÄôs deficit-reduction commission released a draft last week proposing to reduce the long-term deficit through a combination of tax reforms, cuts to discretionary and military spending and savings in our social security and healthcare systems. As with any serious and realistic governing proposal that acknowledges the need for tough choices and trade-offs, it was met with sharp criticism from politicians and pundits.
The left has been particularly upset with the proposal. There have been attacks on the Republican co-chairman Alan Simpson. Nancy Pelosi called the plan âÄúsimply unacceptable.âÄù Paul Krugman, a columnist for The New York Times, said, âÄúThe deficit commission should be told to fold its tents and go away.âÄù
Not only is this discourse entirely unproductive and unhelpful, it is exactly the same strategy of âÄújust say noâÄù that the left criticized Republicans for over the last two years.
The proposal is by no means perfect. It should place a heavier burden on those who can best afford to bear it; the top 1 percent of Americans makes the largest share of the countryâÄôs income since 1928 and controls a third of the countryâÄôs wealth (the bottom half of the country controls 2.5 percent).
However, no proposal will ever be perfect, and neither side should expect to get everything they want and nothing they donâÄôt. Members of Congress should seriously consider every proposal, including this one, and not dismiss them out of hand. Politicians on both sides of the aisle must realize that reducing the deficit responsibly will take compromise and the courage to make some unpopular decisions. Political cowardice is unsustainable.