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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Non-Existent Fiscal Commission Report Reappears in a Washington Post Column

The Non-Existent Fiscal Commission Report Reappears in a Washington Post Column

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011 05:20
The Post obviously finds it hard to get good help. That must be why it had to use a column by a person, Norman Ornstein, who didn't know that the Simpson-Bowles commission never issued a report. Ornstein is referring to the report of the co-chairs, Bowles and Simpson. This report never got the support from the necessary majority of the commission. This is an example of the sort of skills mis-match that economists refer to as "structural unemployment," where workers do not have the skills necessary for the jobs that are available.
Comments (7)Add Comment
...
written by Paul Reneke, July 19, 2011 8:27
Dr. Baker,

You owe Norman Ornstein an apology. He did not actually say the commission issued a report. He said they "considered" cuts to Medicare and Social Security that were not as harsh as would be required by the balanced budget amendment.

The venom in your post for a commentary agreeing with many points you have made implies something personal. Maybe it isn't but regardless it is overblown and inaccurate.

You are normally very good so I hope you will correct this and continue your excellent work.
Ornstein Did Refer to the Report
written by Dean, July 19, 2011 8:35
Paul,

I re-read the piece. When Ornstein says "levels contemplated by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission," I don't think there can be any serious doubt that he is referring to the Simpson-Bowles report. The meetings themselves were held in secret, so Ornstein presumably has no idea of the levels that were discussed in these meetings. And the comment directly links to the Simpson-Bowles report, so I don't think I was mis-representing his comment here.

For the record, I don't think that I have ever met Norman Ornstein and I have not read enough of his work to have any personal feelings toward him one way or the other.
Did the commission consider the chairman's report?
written by AndrewDover, July 19, 2011 11:09
"Accounting for population changes, the 16.7 percent limit would mean slashing Social Security and Medicare well below the levels contemplated by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission, and cutting discretionary spending by half or more. "

It might have been more precise to write "not passed by the Simpson-Bowles commission", but "contemplated" is sufficiently correct. considered, but perhaps not acted upon.

It seems a reasonable conjecture that the commission considered the chairman's report.

p.s. Norman Ornstein does know.

"The "chairman’s mark" from these two leaders of the president’s fiscal commission is not going to be adopted in toto;"

from his comments on the Deficit Commission:

http://www.aei.org/article/102790


The need for a report
written by mikey, July 19, 2011 11:10
If there were no "official" Cat Food Commission report, it's such a necessary hobbyhorse that it would have to be invented. And it was.
The "Report"
written by Jeff Z, July 19, 2011 4:36
What fits in the newspaper. "The Report of the Co-chairs" is bulky, but clear (to me, anyway). It is also easy enough for a reader to mistake this for the report of the entire commission.

Perhaps better is the "Simpson-Bowles Report," like the "MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour" of old, only less accurate.
Simpson-Bowles Proposal
written by PeakVT, July 19, 2011 6:46
"Report" usually implies both some finding of fact and official imprimatur. Instead, it's what two old rich guys think should be done.
...
written by liberal, July 19, 2011 9:20
Dean wrote,
For the record, I don't think that I have ever met Norman Ornstein and I have not read enough of his work to have any personal feelings toward him one way or the other.


But apart from this apparent sin you found, the column was actually pretty good---pointing out that a balanced budget amendment is a kooky idea.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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