Let’s All Stop Talking About the Base-Closing Commissions

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Peter Diamond thinks we should set up a bunch of expert committees to solve our fiscal problems, with Congress agreeing beforehand to an up-or-down vote on their recommendations. It worked for the base-closing committees, after all. Atrios pushes back:

The base closing commission was a unique thing for a unique situation. Everybody wanted to close some bases, but no politician wanted to be responsible for closing bases in their states. Nothing else is similar to that.

Stop advocating for politicians to find ways to remove democratic accountability. In our system they already have enough ways of doing that.

Yep. The very fact that the base-closing committees are unique should tell you something. Just like the fact that the 1986 tax reform law was unique. When something has only ever worked once, that’s not primarily evidence that it’s possible, it’s primarily evidence that it’s really, really hard to pull it off.

Enough with paeans to the base-closing commissions. Let’s never mention them again. They were a unique solution to a unique problem, not an all-purpose cure-all for every difficult political disagreement. I’m tired of hearing about them. One way or another, we have to make politics work. There are no magical shortcuts.


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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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