Economy Insiders: Long odds on long-term budget deal

By Clifford Marks

April 18, 2011

In a sign of just how difficult a long-term budgetary compromise will be, more than 60 percent of Economic Insiders who participated in National Journal's poll this week 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 commission 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.

Read the whole story, including graphs and question details, at National Journal.

By Clifford Marks

April 18, 2011