Here again, that might not appear to be such a bad thing until you realize that the Bowles-Simpson commission didn’t actually produce a report. In fact, what its cult-like supporters like to call the Bowles-Simpson report is nothing more than what the commission’s two co-chairmen proposed: Their recommendation was never voted on because they didn’t have enough support from other commission members to keep the process going.
But that’s not all. The House overwhelmingly rejected the Bowles-Simpson commission last month when something resembling what the co-chairmen proposed was offered as a substitute for the budget resolution put together by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Not only was Ryan one of the Bowles-Simpson commission members whose opposition doomed the plan when it first was recommended by the co-chairmen, he also rejected using it as the basis for what he recommended in his own committee and then voted against the Bowles-Simpson amendment when it was offered on the floor. Ryan would lead the House conferees if there were a budget resolution conference this year, so his repeated opposition means that any plan called Bowles-Simpson almost certainly is doomed before it begins. Add the embarrassing bipartisan opposition to the plan when the House debated it last month, and the possibility that it could succeed in the current environment is zero.
That makes the message — Bowles-Simpson is worthwhile, and we support it — doubly curious. The Bowles-Simpson recommendation is a thoroughly discredited concept. But, and far more importantly, in the same way that the House reconciliation efforts based on its own budget resolution have no chance of being enacted, a Bowles-Simpson-based budget resolution coming from the Senate also will go nowhere.
There are better ways to send the federal budget-related messages that need to be sent. If the House (or Senate) wants to move forward, why not actually send the other body a real message by asking it to meet to see if something can be worked out?
The alternative of just passing or considering legislation that will never become law is the type of message that will never be received.
Stan Collender is a partner at Qorvis Communications and founder of the blog Capital Gains and Games. He is also the author of “The Guide to the Federal Budget.”