Like a shingles attack, relict of a long-forgotten childhood ailment, Simpson & Bowles have returned with an even more toxic version of their Austerity “for thee, but not for me” Plan. Per Greg Sargent:
Like a pair of aging crooners hoping to recapture past glory with a long-awaited reunion tour, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson released a new version of their deficit reduction plan today. Ezra Klein ferrets out the real news in the plan: It asks for far less in new revenues, and more in spending cuts, than the previous Simpson-Bowles plan did…
…[T]he plan roughly represents the ideological midpoint between the Obama and Boehner fiscal cliff blueprints — which is why the plan is so heavily tilted towards cuts. As Kevin Drum notes, this is particularly odd, given that spending cuts have already been “75 percent of the deficit reduction we’ve done so far.” Drum adds: “this sure makes it hard to take Simpson-Bowles 2.0 seriously as a plan.”
That’s true, but it also provides a useful window into the arbitrariness of Beltway conceptions of what constitutes the ideological “center.” After all, the Boehner fiscal cliff plan raised taxes only on income over $1 million; the Obama offer raised taxes only on income over $400,000. Both of these are to the right of the balance Obama just won an election on: The expiration of the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. Yet these were designated the two ideological outer poles for the purposes of defining the debate….
Alex Pareene, at Salon:
… S and B are doing their best to explain why we need a new, different plan. One reason is that, in their eyes, the situation has gotten so, so much worse since their last plan, that we now need more deficit reduction than we needed last time. The other reason is that the point of this plan is to be a model for a “compromise” between the current supposed GOP sequester-avoiding plan and the Obama administration’s sequester-avoiding plan, and it does this by adding tax revenue that the GOP has explicitly ruled out — but not as much as the original Simpson-Bowles plan, which had a lotta taxes — and demanding even more spending cuts than the original plan did. So the new centrist common sense bipartisan compromise is way more conservative than it was a few years ago, but still not conservative enough to win any Republican support (beyond insincere rhetorical support, I mean).
The cuts come from Medicare and Medicaid, because while the Obama administration laid out a plan to get as much deficit reduction as Simpson-Bowles originally demanded, the Obama administration did so in the wrong way, without trying to cut a bunch of money from those programs and Social Security…
And Professor Krugman summarizes the whole mishegas as “Snark That Writes Itself“:
Erskine Bowles tells a Politico event — now that’s a match made in heaven — that
The idea of a grand bargain is at best on life support.
OK, is there anyone whose immediate reaction isn’t, “Let’s convene a death panel!”
Look, a grand bargain right now is a terrible idea. The simple fact is that our political system isn’t ready. Washington is divided between parties with utterly different visions of what our society should look like; Republicans, in particular, would wait maybe a minute before trying to renege on any bargain that raises rather than cuts taxes on the wealthy, and that leaves the basic structure of Medicare and Social Security intact…
Meanwhile, the Kabuki of grand bargain negotiations absorbs all of DC’s political energy, making it impossible to talk seriously about the economic problems we have right now…
Gee, Prof. Krugman, any chance you might have hit upon the very reason for S&B’s re-emergence?