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The fiscal commission deserves credit for taking on the thankless job of proposing deficit reduction. Politicians have grown accustomed to playing Santa Claus, and saying no is politically difficult. Unfortunately, the reports recommendations lack a central theme. They achieved certain mathematical targets, yet their series of tax increases and spending tweaks fails to address fundamental questions regarding the proper responsibilities of the federal government, state governments and individuals.

Specifically on retirement security, the commissioners did not offer a vision delineating individual obligations, the role of government and how government should provide its role. These are questions Americans must grapple with as we bring the federal budget to 21st-century sustainability.

Brian Riedl is Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation (