When the co-chairmen of President Obama’s debt commission released a draft series of recommendations today, they presumably intended to show momentum and create pressure for others to come around to some kind of an agreement.
Press stories are sure to focus on the Social Security changes and how they will antagonize some liberals, thus proving that the proposal is serious.
Meanwhile, Bowles and Simpson refused to endorse moving Medicare toward a defined contribution program, as Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap proposes, relying instead on the usual laundry list of cuts to the existing program structure.
None of this is all that surprising, given how the commission was formulated. It’s not really a bipartisan commission at all; it’s an Obama commission. It was created by the president and stacked with Democratic appointees. Two-thirds of the 18 members were picked by the president or Democratic congressional leaders. Only six were appointed by Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell.
The fundamental problem here is that it is not possible build a bipartisan budget framework on a foundation that includes a partisan health-care plan with sweeping implications for future spending levels. To have a bipartisan budget requires a bipartisan health plan. And that means repealing Obamacare and starting over.
— James C. Capretta is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He was an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004.