One of the attractions of eating at a buffet is that diners can fill their plates with the stuff they like and leave the unappetizing dishes alone.

So, one patron can load up on ribs and ignore the cauliflower and broccoli, while the person next in line can say, “Oh, good! I’ve been starving for lima beans!” and leap on the legumes.

The problem with the recommendations made by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility is that they are a buffet. The 18-member commission was charged by President Obama to find effective ways to reduce the national debt, and their plan, released Friday after a two-day extension of the original deadline, contains a wide variety of options.

But some members of the panel would always pick the tasty tax cuts over the tough-to-chew tax hikes, while others would never volunteer to chow down on spending cuts and program reductions even as those proposals tickled the palates of some fellow panelists.

So, in a format that required 78 percent of the panel’s members — 14 of 18 — to sign off on its recommendations in order to forward them officially to Congress, the mixed bag of proposals only garnered 11 votes — which is still 60 percent approval. The plan included $1 trillion in tax hikes, reining in the pay of the federal workforce, cutting future payments from Social Security and Medicare, and eliminating many popular income tax deductions to enable a lowering of overall tax rates.

The panel’s chairmen, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, estimated that if its proposals were fully adopted, the debt could be cut by $3.9 trillion by 2020.

However, some Republican members were critical of the panel’s refusal to address reforms of the new health care plan, which their party has pledged to alter or repeal. And some Democrats said the cuts to popular and long-established social programs were too deep.

So, does the lack of a sufficient supermajority mean the panel’s effort was a waste of time? Not necessarily.

As one member said, “We have changed the issue from whether there should even be a fiscal plan for this country to what is the best fiscal plan for the country, and that is an enormous, tectonic paradigm shift “

It’s too early to know if that assessment is correct, and the Republican majority in the House, where spending bills must originate, is coming in with its own priorities and goals.

However, unless people with disparate viewpoints will choke down things they find unappetizing, there is little hope that the debt can be carved up in pieces capable of being swallowed.