Alan Simpson gave us all a way to tell whether the U.S. Congress has any intention of addressing our deficit crisis. He said:
"If you see the leadership not appointing members of the Gang of Six to the new commission of 12, you know they don't want to get anything done."
Well, the suspense is over, Harry Reid, Democrat leader of the Senate appointed Patricia Murray, who is the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as the co-chair of the committee for the Democrats. That very clearly states to all of us that the Democrats' main concern in this committee is political advantage for the 2012 elections rather than finding ways to come up with a workable fiscal approach. He also appointed Max Baucus, and John Kerry.
The main point is that none of the Democrats who were on the Gang of Six will be on the committee of 12. They were Mark Warner, Kent Conrad, and Dick Durbin of the Democrats. These three have already done the hard work of hashing out a negotiated compromise for deficit reduction along the lines of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. They are being ignored, and it is clear that compromise will be ignored as well.
Once Harry Reid laid down the gauntlet of uncompromising liberals in the committee of 12, the rest will have to follow suit. Of course, McConnell already had announced that he wouldn't appoint anyone willing to consider tax increases, so I suppose my hope for a Gang of Six or Simpson-Bowles type of plan that cut spending and raised revenues was a cruel one destined for disappointment.
Too bad. Our government is being given opportunity after opportunity to get our fiscal house in order, and moves relentlessly toward deeper and deeper polarization and ideological war.
The American people deserve better than this, much better.