The point of the Simpson-Bowles commission wasn't full employment for budget wonks. It was consensus...[i]t's a failure given the original goals of the project. Far from showing that we can all agree, it's proved that we can't.I disagree! Commissions can't achieve consensus. That requires the normal political process of horsetrading and deals, and sometimes there's no deal to be had.
I'll go back to what I said when the commission got started. These sort of commissions can do two things. They can give cover to something that people want to do but don't want to take credit (or responsibility) for. The classic example for that were the base closing commissions. And they can give cover for people who don't want to do anything, but don't want to take credit (or responsibility) for that.
In this case, the Democrats didn't want to act (then) on the deficit -- quite correctly in my view, but regardless, they didn't want to act, and for understandable political reasons they didn't want to say that they didn't want to act. The purpose of the commission was to kick the can down the road until after the election. In that, it basically succeeded.
Of course, it's possible that one or more of the people who supported the commission believed that it would achieve a consensus that otherwise didn't exist. Perhaps even the president thought that. If so, they were foolish. Commissions can't do that.