Third Way: Gang Of Six Compromise Is The Only Game In Town

Ignore the obvious Fox spin from Gretchen Carlson and the Washington Examiner guy who thinks Paul Ryan walks on water in this clip and listen to Jim Kessler from Third Way tell us that the "Gang of Six" compromise which hasn't been reached, hasn't been unveiled and contains no specifics is the "only game in town."

This stuff drives me crazy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this notion that we'll "all hate it", which means we should "all like it." It drives me crazy mostly because it suggests that there are no real creative ways to look at deficit reduction and begins with the presumption that taxes cannot be raised to deal with the deficit.

Here are the Senators who comprise the Gang of Six: Mark Warner (D-Va.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

Does anyone really think a group that includes Coburn, Crapo, and Chambliss will arrive at a compromise that involves a tax increase? I certainly don't.

My problem with Third Way is where they start. They frame the entire debate by calling the progressive approach "Soak the Rich" and the conservative approach "Starve the Beast." Neither are accurate, given that progressives have argued for fairness in the tax code and not a soaking, while conservatives aren't as interested in starving beasts as they are in shifting where the beast is fed and who feeds it.

While they haven't unveiled specific ideas yet, it seems clear that they're already pushing for their plan to be the only plan that makes sense, and to cut off debate -- an option I find unacceptable. The Progressive Caucus has ideas that make sense, and are not "soaking" the rich as much as they are a way to make tax burdens fair to all -- corporations, middle class, and wealthy alike.

The entire debate is being framed too widely at this point, anyway. Social Security should come off the table, except to the extent that the payroll tax is adjusted as the original formula intended. The tax code needs to be overhauled. In my view, any deficit reduction package that amends the tax code as it exists today is not reform, since it's loaded with sunset provisions, obscure tax breaks for one or two companies all over it, and other inconsistent and mostly unintelligible footnotes that give billions away to the high-end earners.

Going on Fox & Friends and telling viewers it's our way or no way is not a third way. It's just what conservatives do on a near-daily basis. Surely we can do better than that.

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