Commentary: Congress must make decisions on deficit

To President Barack Obama and Congress falls the task of reining in the nation's unsustainable budget deficit without putting the brakes on a fragile economic recovery.

Our near- and long-term economic health hinges on finding the right balance. So does our national security. Mounting debt makes us vulnerable to foreign investors and international pressures.

Obama is right that Washington must take on the massive structural problems in the federal budget. But there is little hope that a deeply polarized Congress can get the job done; both parties have punted the responsibility for decades.

That's why it's good to see Obama get behind the idea of a bipartisan fiscal commission that would grapple with entitlement reform and tax policy. The commission should be empowered to make recommendations, which Congress would accept or reject with an up-or-down vote.

Sadly, a bipartisan bill to establish such a commission failed to gain enough votes in the Senate last week. Now Republican leaders say they won't participate if Obama creates one by executive order.

Likewise, the GOP response when Obama released his 2011 budget Monday was to mutter "more of the same," in mantra-like fashion.

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