Democratic Senator Kent Conrad has a brilliant plan to take on the massive federal deficit. It involves a "task force," of course. But not just any task force: he has envisioned a task force of unimaginable uselessness.
We spend a lot of time criticizing the North Dakota Senator, mostly for seeming to believe that "Federalism" means "the entire nation must pay fealty to a state the size of Milwaukee (not incl. metro area, obv) if it wants to get anything done." But is it possible he is actually just stupid?
That is the only explanation, really, for his brilliant new plan to create a "bipartisan fiscal task force" to address the federal deficit. First of all, Kent Conrad opposes any and all money-saving measures that would adversely affect North Dakota's status as America's sixth-most successful welfare state. Second of all, obsessively carping on the deficit in the middle of a massive recession and record joblessness is an incredibly bizarre thing for a Democratic Senator to do (or it would've been considered incredibly bizarre back before Democrats acquiesced to the Serious Reaganomists who dismantled the social safety net).
But most importantly, he has engineered this task force in such a way that we don't think he has been paying a whit of attention to anything Congress has been doing (or not doing) for the last 20 years:
Importantly, the task force would ensure a bipartisan outcome. Broad bipartisan agreement would be required to move anything forward. Fourteen of the 18 Task Force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. And final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.
Hah. HAH. Yes, that would ensure a bipartisan outcome, wouldn't it! In the sense that the Senate's complete inaction on every single pressing issue of the day is broadly "bipartisan." And by all means, let's export those absurd anti-majoritarian abuses of parliamentary procedure to the other legislative body, the one with a nasty tendency to actually vote on major legislation!
But this does not go far enough to achieve broad bipartisan support! Conrad should propose to solve every American crisis by commissioning a bipartisan task force that will only issue recommendations that 67 of its 74 members agree on, and all 74 members have to be individually approved by 80% majorities in the House and Senate, and by supermajorities in 3/4ths of the nation's State Legislatures. He will get so much done, then.