"Don't Sign Yourself Into a Corner"
The establishment of a fiscal commission either in Congress or by the President was attacked from both sides of the political spectrum. Liberals thought that the group would be cover for cutting entitlement programs, while conservatives thought the commission would be a cover to raise taxes. When President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform came to be, both sides wanted to fence off different options for consideration. And it continues to happen.
A Washington Post article details different liberal groups who want Social Security cuts to be off the table. In fact, MoveOn is planning to ask candidates to sign pledges opposing Social Security benefit reductions. They would like to see the entire fiscal imbalance of Social Security solved on the tax side; Nancy Altman of Social Security Works suggests raising the payroll tax cap or enacting a financial transactions tax to cover the deficit.
We at CRFB of course like to say that everything should be on the table when it comes to fixing our fiscal problems. We should not try to solve them just on one side of the budget while completely ignoring the other. We particularly like what House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to say:
"My advice to members is: Do not sign yourself into a corner.... That's not because anybody intends to cut the benefits of any Social Security recipient today or tomorrow. But given the magnitude of the problems that confront us, do not limit your options."
These pledges are coming from both sides, with conservative counterparts offering up "no new taxes" pledges, the likes of which have been seen at the state level, and have proven to be detrimental to state budget negotiations. We at CRFB agree with Rep. Hoyer: given the severity of our fiscal problems, we should not be limiting ourselves. Fencing off options not only is bad budgeting, but also bad politics. Limiting options reduces the chances for a bipartisan deficit reduction plan, which obviously reduces the likelihood that anything will get done. We'd prefer a different kind of pledge: keep everything on the table.