Irony: Deficit Commission…Runs Out Of Money

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 28: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) delivers opening remarks during a hearing about the CBO's Budget and Economic Outlook for FY 2010 to 2020 January 28, 2010 in Washington, DC. The CBO's latest estimates see a $1.35 trillion deficit for the current budget year, dropping to $980 billion next year only if a host of tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush are allowed to expire at the end of the year. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I don’t envy politically-themed comics in this day and age. It becomes hard to mock those who do so thorough a job of making a mockery of themselves.

Saddled with a tight deadline and great expectations, members of President Obama’s deficit reduction commission say they may not have the resources necessary to meet their task.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which the president created through an executive order in February, is charged with developing a plan by December 1 that would stabilize the budget deficit by 2015 and reduce the federal debt over the long term. The group is widely expected to consider a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts.

But despite the weighty demands, the panel has only a fraction of the staff and budget of standing congressional committees. The panel’s own cochairs and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have criticized the meager resources and called for more support.

So what are these “meager resources” the panel is struggling with?

According to fiscal commission staffers, there are 10 to 15 people who work for the commission, including two full-time employees, interns, employees “borrowed” from other agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department, and special government employees, who are expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year. The number of workers will likely grow to around 20 by midsummer.

The White House has set aside the resources to provide the equivalent of four full-time salaries and $500,000 in operating costs for the commission, fiscal commission Executive Director Bruce Reed told Tax Analysts.

The deficit commission is tasked to produce a report on December 1st. The commission was formed on February 18th. So the commission will have operated, presuming no delays in the issuance of its report, for nine and a half months.

The funding it has is $52,631/month plus compensation for all personnel involved. And somehow…that’s not enough money?

I get the feeling that the most useful function this panel may serve will be to illustrate, inadvertently through example, exactly what is wrong with government.

It’s not revenue. It’s bloated, inefficient spending.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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