The Bowles-Simpson proposals are a great public service, I think, even though the form and timing of the announcement were disconcerting. The full deficit commission is due to report soon. It would have been better to announce a single plan then, supported by an impressive majority of the members; doubtless the two co-chairmen would have preferred that too. Presumably, with no such consensus emerging, they decided to rush a joint proposal out rather than have it die in private talks without seeing light of day. Trouble is, the other members might see this pre-emption as a licence for them to go their own way too. This would defeat the main purpose of forming the commission in the first place: bridging political differences. If we end up with a mess of competing proposals, none commanding cross-party support, we will be back where we started.
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