It was with genuine trepidation that I took a quick look at the bipartisan report that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson prepared for the Obama Deficit Commission. As with all such reports, it is pointless to attack either the bona fides or the expertise of the individuals who labored to produce a final product that they hope will bridge the deep Congressional divide. Theirs is a thankless task. But it may help to write an instant obituary that at least mentions some practical and theoretical reasons why their report is likely to be dead on arrival.
On the practical side, the insoluble problem is slippage over time. The first of the report’s recommendations are to go into effect only after we are done with the current malaise by–wishful thinking–2012. Yet two years is an entire political generation. The 20- or 30-year cycle for successful implementation is the political equivalent of the Cenozoic era. We could not bind the future even if we had a unity of vision today.