One of the drivers of the country's current fiscal policy debate has been the work of the President's bi-partisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the "Bowles-Simpson" commission). Similar to other recently developed bi-partisan plans, the commission offered a set of policy changes to address both short-term deficits and long-term unsustainability. Now it is up to Congress and the President to enact something similar to address the nation's fiscal challenges.
Commissions are attempts to break the gridlock in Congress, which seems unable to take effective action on long-term problems through the traditional legislative and budget processes. In an ideal world, we would not need commissions. However, these working groups provide the opportunity for members to develop credible plans of action within a process that pressures policymakers to ultimately act.