What can budget commission achieve?

Marketplace Staff Feb 17, 2010
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What can budget commission achieve?

Marketplace Staff Feb 17, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal: The Treasury Department said today the January budget deficit tipped the scales at $42.5 billion. Bad, not as bad as everyone was thinking. The current political dynamic in Washington, though, means nobody’s real eager to take a stand on bringing that deficit down. Last month, the Senate put the kibosh on a bipartisan budget commission.

So tomorrow, President Obama is going to create one all by himself. But that still doesn’t mean he can make everybody play nice. Brett Neely reports.


BRETT NEELY: The president’s commission has Washington budget watchers feeling…

MICHAEL LINDEN: Yeah, muted I guess would be the best way to put it.

Michael Linden with the liberal Center for American Progress says at best, the commission might educate the public about the deficit.

LINDEN: The budget is complicated, these issues are complex and there’s a lot of misunderstandings, misinformation about the federal budget.

Those misunderstandings make it hard to have an honest debate, says Maya MacGuineas. She heads the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

MAYA MACGUINEAS: The problem is that every part of the budget has become the third rail to somebody.

The commission’s report could serve as the basis for a gentleman’s agreement between both parties, says Joe Minarik of the nonpartisan Committee for Economic Development. But…

JOE MINARIK: You have to wonder at this point and in this environment a) whether you can get a gentleman’s agreement and b) whether you’re dealing with gentlemen, whether the agreement will be honored.

Minarik says if a dysfunctional Congress can’t get debt under control, expect financial crisis 2.0.

In Washington, I’m Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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