Remember, this was not a binding vote. Rather, it was a vote that would have allowed the gutsiest bipartisan debt commission in our history to deal with the deficit to live another day and be part of a vigorous congressional debate. But instead the folks who would rather demagogue the deficit in elections and then ignore it when in office have won this round. They were aided and abetted by the deficit deniers who have an ostrich-like view of America’s economic competitiveness. The worst criticism should be reserved for those like Ryan and Hensarling and Baucus, who knew better but did nothing.
The Obama administration also deserves blame for this commission’s near failure because it did not make its success a priority. Instead it was content to watch from the sidelines as serious people struggled to deal with our most stubborn long-term problems. The White House showed no leadership on the president’s deficit commission.
The American people are still ahead of our elected representatives on this issue. Our deficits and our debt represent an existential threat to the United States, as the world’s largest debtor nation cannot remain the world’s sole superpower indefinitely. We need to take action together, and this commission was the best chance we will see at a bipartisan plan in the near future. The absolutists who see a pain-free plan from their side of the aisle’s perspective, with no entitlement reforms or no revenue increases, are not serious. They are part of the problem.