President's Fiscal Commission
Commission Commencement – President Obama signed Thursday the Executive Order officially creating the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He also named former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erksine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson as the bipartisan co-chairs of the panel.
Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
The New York Times argued that the temporarily higher federal matching for state Medicaid funds should continue past the end of next year, when the higher matching rates are set to expire. They claimed that this would be a good way to help states' budgets and will help the increased numbers of poor people who currently rely on Medicaid for healthcare.
Update: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will make Republican appointments to the deficit commission.
Snow Job – Just hours after Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced they had reached a deal on a jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plowed it under, saying it was too bloated with provisions not related to creating jobs. The Senate will consider the scaled-down version Reid crafted on February 22 when it returns from its week-long President’s Day recess.
Yesterday, President Obama gave his first official State of the Union address, outlining his agenda for the rest of the year. We watched the speech closely (and even tweeted on it), and were impressed overall. Although President Obama argued that "jobs must be our number one focus in 2010," he paid particular attention to the deficit. As the President explained:
[The deficit] is a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve.
"If you are not for this commission, than what are you for?" was Republican Senator George Voinovich's reaction to fellow Republicans who voted against the creation of the Conrad-Gregg fiscal commission yesterday in the Senate. As we reported yesterday in The Bottom Line, the commission fell short of the 60 votes needed in order to pass. Twenty-three Republicans voted along with 22 Democrats to defeat the commission.
A proposal to form a bipartisan commission to address the nation’s mounting long-term debt just fell short of the 60 votes needed for approval in the Senate. The vote on the Conrad-Gregg amendment to the debt limit increase was 53 in favor to 46 opposed. The vote tally detailing how Senators voted is available here.