New Speaker Mike Johnson’s First Good Idea: A Debt Commission

“What can a bipartisan commission on the debt accomplish? The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), which has been advocating for such a commission, argues that special congressional task forces can focus discussions, generate greater public awareness of major issues, and create the opportunity for lawmakers to put all ideas on the table.

In 1983, for example, Social Security was approaching insolvency—a problem that sounds pretty familiar today—when a commission of congressional leaders and presidential appointees worked out a series of potential fixes. Afterward, Congress enacted many of those reforms, making Social Security solvent for another five decades.

More recently there was the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, formed by President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. It produced a plan that could have reduced the debt by $4 trillion over 10 years by raising taxes, cutting spending, and selling off federal property. Even though most of those proposals were never enacted, the CRFB points hopefully to the fact that 11 of the 18 commission members supported the final recommendations, including five Republicans and five Democrats.”

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