Saturday, November 13, 2010

President Obama Should Back Simpson-Bowles Budget Report ? Er... NOT!!!

In response to Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Bo Cutter's post about the recently released draft from the deficit cutting commission (here: President Obama Should Back Simpson-Bowles Budget Report » New Deal 2.0:), I wrote:

"I’m hoping Bo's “early substantive and political perspectives” don’t turn out to be what he actually believes after he shakes out the cobwebs and really takes a look. Have some coffee, Bo, you seem sleepy.

No real detail has been provided, but…”??? Umm, ya think?!?

There’s hardly any detail AT ALL, not to mention complete punts on some of the most serious issues and a mystical ‘and then magic happens’ at the center of their proposed solution - if it can be called such - to the health care costs problem.

Bo, you seem to have blown right through the all red flags and alarm bells that “no real detail” should have triggered in your brain. Let’s hope your access rights & privileges on Warburg Pincus’ trading system have better control logic, lest you absent-mindedly hit the wrong key and send a blizzard of nonsensical proposed trades out the door that are destined to reject & perhaps cause another ‘Flash Crash’?

As folk wisdom goes, I suppose the notion that pissing off both sides of the Left-Right divide is a positive indicator that this chairman’s mark is “fair and right down the middle.” But, as Sarah Palin has taught us, folk wisdom - and its cousin, “common sense solutions” - seems to mean little more than antagonism towards intellect and the hard work of rigorous analysis.

Bo, you are right that both the left and right will/do hate it. But, what you overlook is that even those of us “in the middle” hate it too!

Sensible, rational, fair…”???

What is sensible or rational about assuming away spiraling medical costs by fiat?

What is sensible about claiming to simplify the tax code by proposing fewer tax brackets, when the real complexity stems from an unnecessarily narrow tax base that is mostly gamed by large corporations and the ultra-rich?

What is fair about further flattening what little remains of the progressivity of the tax system in favor of upper income brackets, thus further shifting the incidence of the tax burden onto lower income households?

What is fair about extending the retirement age, or reducing SocSec benefits, or leaving a cap on incomes subject to the SocSec payroll tax?

What is fair about a ‘balance’ that is 75% spending cuts that target the most economically challenged in our country, with only 25% from tax revenue increases… especially when the tax revenue increases are spread across all income groups, despite record levels of income & wealth inequality? The rich have benefited disproportionately over the last 30 years, and it is long past time they stepped to the plate and shouldered a greater, not lesser, burden.

Third, that does not mean this is dead on arrival.”???

Perhaps true, if only because it should be more appropriately called “stillborn.”

“This is the only full budget proposal out there that makes significant progress in solving the long-run deficit problem.”

Bo, put down the crack pipe and back away from the ledge, man. I’m starting to worry about ya. What full budget proposal?

It doesn’t make any significant progress as, among other things, it does not even begin to address health care costs which are the only true long-term driver of future projected deficits. Let me know when they’ve stopped punting on the issue - or at least committed to automatic triggers for a robust public option and/or single-payer system if & when their magically-assumed GDP+1% health cost growth targets are missed, as they surely will be.

It is not smoke and mirrors.

What part of punting on health care costs is non-smoke and anti-mirrors? You’ve got it completely wrong. It is exactly a smoke-screen to disguise the continuing effort of triumphalist modern day Know-Nothing conservatives to roll back New Deal 1.0 and impose their plutocratic laissez-faire free market fundamentalism & government-is-bad minimalism on the rest of us. Ignore the man behind the curtain, said the giant floating pseudo Wizard head.

Fourth, President Obama should back this strongly and work to achieve it. The White House should not, but will anyway, over-think this… I believe, as I will write later, that supporting this proposal is the right thing to do, is decidedly not some dreadful compromise with the devil, and ought to be one of the pillars of President Obama’s comeback platform for the next two years.

And I’m hoping you’re not on any of the speed-dial buttons of Obama’s political consultants. Backing anything closely resembling this chairmen’s mark would be political suicide. If the electorate has truly gone so far right of center (and I doubt that very much), then they’re going to vote for a genuine conservative, not a phony one. Again, Bo, you’ve got it exactly backwards. The danger here is if Obama were to under-think this one, which seems to me exactly what you have done.

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