Simpson-Bowles 2.0 And The New 'Center'

The new Simpson-Bowles plan looks a lot like the old Simpson-Bowles plan, but more heavily tilted towards cuts and as Greg Sargent pointed out, represents a major shift to the right.
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As Digby rightfully noted after taking a look at some of the reporting on this new Simpson-Bowles plan, "we see the folly of asking for a "balanced approach" when you are negotiating with partisan thugs." Once again, we see that Overton window continually being shoved to the right when there are other alternatives out there, like the package offered by the Progressive Caucus in the House. That, of course, will be ignored, because the Villagers don't seem to consider anyone Serious unless they're talking about austerity and inflicting pain on the working class.

Here's more from Greg Sargent at The Plum Line: Simpson-Bowles and the mythical, arbitrary “center”:

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.

Whereas the previous Simpson-Bowles plan contained a roughly even split of revenues and cuts, the new one reduces the revenue “ask” dramatically, with the result that the overall plan is lopsidedly tilted towards cuts. The reason pinpointed by Klein is particularly striking:

This isn’t meant to be an update to Simpson-Bowles 1.0. Rather, it’s meant to be an outline for a new grand bargain. To that end, Simpson and Bowles began with Obama and Boehner’s final offers from the fiscal cliff deal. That helps explain why their tax ask has fallen so far: Obama’s final tax ask was far lower than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles plan, while Boehner’s tilt towards spending cuts was far greater than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles.

In other words, the 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.” Read on ...

And here's more on that from Steve Benen: Meet the new Simpson-Bowles plan:

The original Simpson-Bowles plan aimed for some semblance of balance, though spending cuts topped revenue. The new Simpson-Bowles plan, however, is entirely one-sided, leaning heavily in Republicans' favor.

I'd like to go into more detail as to how and why these proponents crafted their plan this way, but in an odd twist, Simpson and Bowles published their new plan with hardly any numbers in it. In fact, it's probably a mistake to call this an actual "plan," when it's more of an outline. I know roughly how much they want to cut, but as is the case with Republican rhetoric in general, I don't know where the cuts would occur or by how much.

There have been plenty of debt-reduction packages put together over the last couple of years, but the new Simpson-Bowles proposal is the vaguest. It's not encouraging.

As I understand it, the original goal of Simpson and Bowles was to spread the pain around, creating a plan that neither side would love, but which would tried to make everyone feel the pinch in roughly the same quantities. Democrats and Republicans would complain, but they could stomach the package, the argument went, knowing that their rivals were sacrificing just about as much as they were.

With Simpson-Bowles 2.0, that goal appears to have vanished altogether. Instead we see a vague plan that leans heavily -- almost self-consciously -- in one party's direction, while setting a new debt-reduction goal for reasons the report's authors fail to mention.

I'm not sure who's supposed to be influenced by an unbalanced plan like this one, but I have a strong hunch it won't make any legislative progress anytime soon.

Let's hope so.

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