The New York Times notes that there are a lot of nervous Democrats in Washington who have suddenly noticed that the deficit and our national debt have somehow mysteriously spiraled into a range of numbers generally reserved for discussions of the number of grains of sand on the world’s beaches. Is it because of some new found concern for the public purse? Apparently not. But they did remember that many of them will be facing an election next year.
Faced with anxiety in financial markets about the huge federal deficit and the potential for it to become an electoral liability for Democrats, the White House and Congressional leaders are weighing options for narrowing the gap, including a bipartisan commission that could force tax increases and spending cuts.
But even the idea of a panel to bridge the partisan divide has run into partisan objections. Many Democrats, including in the White House, are loath to cede such far-reaching decisions to a commission and doubt Republicans’ willingness to compromise. And most Republicans remain adamantly opposed to tax increases, leaving the prospects for any bipartisan approach limited at best.
As usual, the Paper of Record rushes to paint this as Republican obstructionism and a desire to “cut taxes more than we can afford” but there may just be a possibility that the fear of the ballot box might actually get some of this spending under control. There is also a desire on the part of some (and I believe the President is among this number) to see some breaks in the partisan gridlock, and among Dem Congressional leaders to at least paint the illusion of bipartisanship on their actions.
I won’t be holding my breath, but it’s at least a hopeful sign.