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Economy Insiders: Long Odds on Long-Term Budget Deal Economy Insiders: Long Odds on Long-Term Budget Deal

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Economy Insiders: Long Odds on Long-Term Budget Deal


House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and President Obama.(Getty Images)

In a sign of just how difficult a long-term budgetary compromise will be, more than 60 percent of Economic Insiders who participated in this week's poll rated the odds of Congress agreeing on a long-term deficit reduction plan this year at less than one-third.

A majority -- 27 of 43 -- said the Bowles-Simpson plan proposed late last year by President Obama's bipartisan commision stood the best chance of forming the basis for an eventual compromise. Several responders, though, thought none of the choices, which included Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" and Obama's proposed 2012 budget, had a prayer of providing a blueprint for agreement.


No "none of the above" option was provided. Still, seven insiders made their own.

"Correct answer is: None of the above," wrote one. "NONE OF THE ABOVE," responded another. 

Others expressed strong doubts that even their choice would lead to compromise. "Given that there won’t be a long-term plan agreed upon, it’s hard to say what’s the best basis for one," wrote one insider who viewed the Obama 2012 budget plan as the best shot at a viable framework.


The poll did not include the deficit-reduction plan Obama announced Tuesday, which built on his earlier 2012 budget, because it had not been released when the polling period began.

National Journal asked more than 50 economic policy experts from across the political spectrum to rate the odds of Congress agreeing to a long-term deficit reduction plan this year and to choose which of four budget proposals they considered most likely to provide a framework for eventual compromise. The options were the "Roadmap to Prosperity" plan released last week by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the Simpson-Bowles proposal, Obama's 2012 budget, and the plan put forward by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

All responses are kept anonymous, to encourage candor. Republicans include former economic advisers to President George W. Bush like Susan Schwab and Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Democratic or liberal insiders include Stanley Collender of Qorvis Communications and co-founder of the Capitol Gain and Games blog; Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research;  and Charlene Barshefsky, former U.S. trade representative under President Clinton.

What do you think the chances are that Congress will agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan this year?

Average: 3.0 (43 votes)

  • 0 14%
  • 1 to 3 51%
  • 4 to 6 26%
  • 7 to 10 9%


"If the Gang of Six can agree on some sort of deal, then the chances go up.  If there’s no GOS proposal, then the chances fall to almost 0."

"Seem like a loaded second question.  My answers: 4 out of 10, and the Simpson-Bowles plan.  Deficit reform needs a bipartisan basis where everyone winds up equally unhappy."

"Tough to know exactly what this means – does passing a budget that does a moderate amount count? I am going with 5."





Which of the following deficit-reduction approaches, if any, do you think has the best chance of providing the basis for an eventual compromise?

43 votes

  • Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" 5%
  • The Simpson-Bowles Plan 63%
  • Obama's 2012 Budget 10%
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Proposal 7%
  • None of the Above 16%


"The Gang of Six is the only game in town, but they’ve got a puncher’s chance."

"Rep. Ryan's approach begins by polarizing the debate on party lines.  Successful bipartisan agreements, like those of 1990 and 1997, seem to begin with leadership-White House discussions rather than broadsides."


"They all have mortal shortcomings.  But within the combined parameters of the first three – the last does a disservice to the term “progressive” – are the constructive means to address the U.S. structural fiscal imbalance and improve U.S. economic conditions."

"It will be extremely hard to get any R’s (and many D’s) to vote for tax increases, even in the context of revenue-neutral tax reform. However, a package that also “bends the curve” on entitlements and squeezes domestic discretionary spending might attract just enough R’s who’d accept defense cuts and tax reform as a trade for pulling in D’s."

"None of the above. The Simpson Bowles approach could work, if the tax increases were not so huge."

"I believe that the House Republicans will start down Ryan’s 'path' but end up closer to Simpson-Bowles."

"None of the options. Better likelihood Domenici-Rivlin [Bipartisan Policy Center plan by former Sen. Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin of Brookings Institution]."


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