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Budget Commissions, Tough Options, and the ...
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By ScottBittle on January 21st, 2010
The idea of a bipartisan commission to draft a plan to get the federal budget on a sound footing has been embraced by President Obama and Congressional leaders, and will likely be a major point in next week's State of the Union speech. Under the plan, a panel named by the White House and leaders of both parties would come up with proposals by December to close the deficit and control the debt. As part of the deal, Congressional leaders promise they would act on the commission plan quickly.
You're going to hear lots of furious debate over whether this is a good idea or not (you can sample some of the criticism from the left and the right on this). There's one big question that has yet to be answered, however: how does the public factor into this?
We can't solve our long-term fiscal problems without engaging the public. Most of the options boil down to spending cuts or tax increases, and very likely a combination of both. None of them can be implemented without public support. Plus, how the federal government raises and spends money is an expression of what is important to us as a society. If we're going to be setting priorities – and that's a crucial part of this process – the public's voice needs to be heard.
There are ways of getting the public involved in working through the options here. For more on putting our fiscal house in order, including six questions to ask about any federal budget, check out our resources here at Facing Up and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. We also recommend the Our Fiscal Future web site, its FacebookFacebook page and Twitter feed.
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»A new report finds the main problem in getting the public to deal with our fiscal problems isn't opposition to tax increases or spending cuts -- it's their lack of trust in the government to spend their money wisely.