Outside Editorial: Deep in the budget hole: Bipartisan panel could help

Posted: Monday, June 12, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

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When you're almost $10 trillion in the hole, you've got to call somebody, right?

Fortunately, GOP Rep. Frank Wolf has a suggestion to deliver us from the gates of budget hell. The Virginia legislator introduced legislation Wednesday that would establish a bipartisan commission charged with presenting the choices required to balance the budget.

The panel would function like the commission that former Texas GOP Rep. Dick Armey launched to close down unnecessary military bases. An independent group would give Congress a budget package, which legislators would vote up or down on unless the House and Senate come up with better solutions.

President Bush proposed a version of this approach earlier this year when he called for a bipartisan commission to recommend how Washington can control runaway spending on Social Security, Medicare and other big guaranteed programs.

But Wolf understands that the budget challenges are not all about spending. They also involve taxes and how much revenue the Treasury needs to pay for the services Americans demand.

In an encouraging sign, White House economic adviser Allen Hubbard recently acknowledged that any bipartisan panel probably would look at taxes.

He wasn't saying the White House is backing off its fondness for tax cuts, but it was a Washington way of saying, "Let's look at the whole range of choices."

We encourage representatives to line up as sponsors of Wolf's legislation and help get it through the House this summer.

It's time Washington reaches out for help.

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