November 25, 2011 1 Comment
I don’t think I blogged any on the Super committee post-mortem. I think this Derek Thompson piece in the Atlantic is my favorite for getting at the key points of Republican intransigence and journalistic incompetence. The subhead really gets it:
Forget “a pox on both houses.” The supercommmittee has failed not because Democrats wouldn’t touch entitlements, but because Republicans can’t bring themselves to raise taxes
Here’s the key paragraphs:
If true, these reports suggest that Democrats offered Republicans not only a fair deal, but a center-right deal in line with the Bowles-Simpson plan that received votes from multiple sitting Republican senators.
Consider the following: Their deal would have raised taxes by 43 cents for every dollar saved. By comparison, in the five grand bargains of the 1980s and early 1990s, tax increases accounted for 61 cents of every dollar saved, Catherine Rampell wrote for the New York Times. “In President Reagan’s 1982 and 1984 budget-trimming deals, more than 80 percent of deficit reductions came from tax increases,” she said.
You might say that Democrats didn’t go far enough on entitlement reform. But they went just as far as Bowles-Simpson and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s deficit plans. Both of those panels found about 15% of their savings in health care and Social Security savings. The Democrats’ found about 16%.
The GOP’s excuse for rejecting the Democrats’ offer is that “now is not the time to raise taxes.” This is a nifty juke for two reasons. First, there is no such thing as “the time to raise taxes” for Republicans. Second, “now” isn’t the time most Democrats wants to raise taxes, anyway. The White House is still pushing for an extension for the payroll tax cut, which would keep effective tax rates at 50-year lows for most families. The supercommittee could have easily voted to schedule tax increases to begin in 2013 on the most wealthy and creep into the upper-middle class over the course of the decade as the economy moves to full strength.
This is your upshot. The supercommmittee has failed not because Democrats wouldn’t touch entitlements, but because Republicans can’t bring themselves to meaningfully raise taxes.
I am soooo tired of reading about how Democratic unwillingness to address entitlements is the yin to the Republican anti-tax yang. It is simply untrue and a tired journalistic trope that comes from not actually paying attention to what Democrats have been offering for as long as Obama has been president. Not to mention, people who actually care about and understand public policy (i.e., a category including very few journalists and even fewer Republican elites know that the 1) we are at post-war lows in our levels of taxation as a proportion of GDP and 2) the “entitlement problem” is a health care costs problem and Democrats have at least tried to make a good start on that with a little something called the Affordable Care Act.