David Harsanyi

As you know, public employees are the wellspring of left-wing political support. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was the single largest outside spender on the 2010 elections. Public-sector unions spent more than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, despite what you may have heard. And they spent taxpayer dollars. What are the chances of Democrats cutting 10 percent of that support?

What's holier than a government pension? An entitlement program, of course. Democrats aren't interested in "reforming" these programs; they're interested in finding ways to pay for them. There's a difference. (Remember that the last time liberals decided it was time for reform, Washington took over an eighth of the economy.)

Let's not forget that Social Security -- a program that offers the American citizen less return on his dollar than a simple savings account -- is the shining example of munificent liberal governance. Which actually makes sense.

Conversely, if conservatives are serious about this -- the House GOP plan offered up a puny $100 billion in cuts, so it's doubtful -- this is the time for genuine, consequential, long-term reform.

Republicans, for instance, should not cave on tax hikes without a plan that would seriously flatten and simplify the entire system. Do fiscal conservatives believe that tax hikes dampen economic growth -- an eventuality this commission's plan doesn't take into account -- or not?

And if conservatives believe that discretionary spending is temporary and entitlement programs are forever, they should demand embedded caps on all spending and revenue and a balanced budget in perpetuity.

Because at this point, we already know the positions. We know where the spending is. We know where the unsustainable growth is happening. We also know that tinkering on the margins would do nothing much. What we don't know is whether anyone is serious about fixing it.

(Jeez, we're screwed.)