Erkine Bowles' name has entered the fiscal cliff-slope-curb debate again. Now his aura is being pushed as a GOP counter-plan to Obama's. When in doubt, send in the Bowles.
Negotiations on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff got a jump-start on Monday with House Republicans offering a counter-proposal to President Barack Obama, but continuing to reject his call for higher tax rates on the wealthy.The GOP proposal would result in $2.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, including $800 billion from tax reform, $600 billion from Medicare reforms and other health savings, and $600 billion in other spending cuts, House GOP leadership aides told reporters.House Speaker John Boehner called it a "credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House."
However, Republicans led by Boehner object to any increase in tax rates, even for higher levels of income earned by 2% of Americans.Instead, the counter-offer Monday proposed $800 billion in deficit savings through tax reform, including raising an unspecified amount of revenue by eliminating tax deductions and loopholes. The GOP letter noted that the new offer was based on a framework proposed last year by Erskine Bowles, a Democrat and one-time White House chief of staff who co-chaired a deficit reduction commission appointed by Obama in 2010.
"This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform," the letter said. "Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs. We believe it warrants immediate consideration."
You'll notice their plan refutes the recent landslide victory by Obama over the Romney/Ryan ticket and sticks to Ryan's bogus calculus without offering rate hikes which the American people are demanding.
Bowles calls out Boehner as a liar -- in much kinder terms, of course -- through a press release. Erskine stated that what Boehner is citing of Bowles is not a plan, but some of his earlier testimony to a joint committee.
While I'm flattered the Speaker would call something "the Bowles plan," the approach outlined in the letter Speaker Boehner sent to the President does not represent the Simpson-Bowles plan, nor is it the Bowles plan. In my testimony before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, I simply took the mid-point of the public offers put forward during the negotiations to demonstrate where I thought a deal could be reached at that time.
The Joint Select Committee failed to reach a deal, and circumstances have changed since then. It is up to negotiators to figure out where the middle ground is today. Every offer put forward brings us closer to a deal, but to reach an agreement, it will be necessary for both sides to move beyond their opening positions and reach agreement on a comprehensive plan which avoids the fiscal cliff and puts the debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy.
Andrea Mitchell said today that the very serious people were sad that no deal has been reached yet. Stay tuned as the PR wars continue.