If you’re contemplating a fiscal knot that no single person seems able to unravel, would adding a variety of views to the mix produce results?

That was the idea behind President Obama’s 18-member bipartisan debt commission, which is due to hand down its recommendations Dec. 1.

And it’s apparently what’s driving Gov.-elect Paul LePage’s effort to produce a balanced budget for the state of Maine in the coming fiscal biennium.

The incoming Republican governor has called together a 10-member committee that, while it’s heavy on current and former State House lawmakers, also includes a couple of health care professionals and Gov. Baldacci’s former finance commissioner, Ryan Low.

Both panels face daunting challenges, but while the numbers they are tossing around will differ by many orders of magnitude, LePage’s panel has a planning horizon measured in months, not decades, and its revenue and spending totals have to match, which isn’t true about whatever is recommended for federal reforms.

LePage has told his advisers, led by state Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford, and public policy guru Tarren Bragdon of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, to produce a budget that accommodates a projected $1 billion-plus shortfall in revenues while fully funding state workers’ pensions; fulfilling the never-realized promise to pay for 55 percent of local education costs; making up hundreds of millions of dollars owed to health care providers in MaineCare reimbursements; and do it all within the legal requirement to balance the budget.

That probably can be done, at least on paper, but both Obama’s commission and LePage’s panel face a structural problem: Even if their recommendations are adopted in full by their sponsors, that may not mean very much. In our system, presidents and governors can propose budgets, but it is Congress and the Legislature who will debate, adjust, trim, expand and set tax rates to create them.

So, while pundits talk about “making hard choices,” it is lawmakers — who face constituents, lobbyists and organized groups every day — who must choose which ones to implement.

The point? Panels can offer options, and executives can submit budgets, but what gets passed in the end may — or, more likely, may not — have much resemblance to those proposals.

In the end, the people can still have their say. Democracy is like that.