Starting in the Flawed Middle Again
by Deacon Blues
"The goal here is to start dealing with the entitlement crisis, and get credit for doing so, without getting ripped apart like Paul Ryan has."
--A senior Democratic operative yesterday
"We all agree that we need to address our fiscal crisis, but taxing families and business people is not the answer. We need to cut spending, address our insolvent entitlements programs, and tighten our belt by doing more with less."
--House Majority Leader Eric Cantor yesterday
Five months ago, I suggested that Obama fight the extension of the Bush tax cuts, and instead blend the Bowles/Simpson recommendations with other efforts to forge a bipartisan budget solution. Today, the White House confirms that Obama wants to be a centrist, and supports the Bowles/Simpson Commission recommendations and the work of a "Gang of Six" bipartisan group of senators as his alternative to the Ryan/Tea Party "solution".
As is typical with Obama, he is leading not with an opening position, but rather his ending position. This is his idea of compromise: let the other side start off with extremism and then counter with something on their side of the field. Bowles/Simpson was made up of 2 dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of new revenue, but those revenue increases and spending cuts came largely from the middle class. As Paul Krugman and others have noted, it's tilted way too much towards tax reductions for the well-off and too little on deficit reduction, and continues the "shoot the wounded" behavior from the GOP's class warfare over the last several decades.
The only good thing you can say about the Catfood Commission report is that it contains real savings, (unfortunately at the expense of everyday Americans), compared to the phony savings and plundering of the bottom 99% contained in the Ryan plan. Yet Obama is leading with this as his alternative, and hoping that the Gang of Six come up with improvements that will get past the full Senate. What isn't known however is whether the three GOP senators in the Gang will be willing to pull in more revenue to level out the sacrifice in the Catfood Commission report, or whether Ryan's report will scare them away from doing so.