Politico reports that a group of Democratic and Republican senators are “quietly pushing to have a major tax and budget package ready by September so a bill can be introduced immediately after the November elections and passed by Christmas.”
In other words, during a lame duck session. Only in the U.S. Senate could people seriously think that a multi-trillion dollar deal negotiated in secret and passed by a Congress that no longer reflects the electoral will of the people somehow counts as statesmanship.
This isn’t to say a lame duck Congress should never hold consequential votes. A terrorist attack, a foreign military invasion, or an asteroid hitting the earth all qualify as legitimate reasons to let retiring and dethroned members decide national policy. But the fear of falling off a “fiscal cliff” that’s been approaching for years – unsustainable deficits, exploding entitlements, budget sequesters that gut the Defense Department, expiring Bush tax cuts that raise rates on individuals – certainly does not.
It’s been said, rightly, that major reforms need bipartisan support. But that’s only half of the equation. Major reforms of the magnitude now being contemplated need to be road-tested on the campaign trail. The 2012 election is one of the most important electoral moments in the modern era. If there are good ideas brewing in the Senate, members should establish some consensus and make it part of the public debate. Otherwise, enjoy the perks of office and let the next Congress, and the next President, decide.