Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Debt commission co-chairs should go rogue

By Kevin Huffman

The chairmen of the president's debt commission should keep on pushing, and threaten to go rogue, if needed. Their proposal Wednesday went down like a lead zeppelin. Their own commission members pussy-footed away from it; the president's knees showed early signs of buckling. And raise your hand if you were stunned when Nancy Pelosi disavowed it for cutting benefits and Grover Norquist slammed it for raising taxes? Well, at least they are consistent in their cowardice.

It probably didn't help that Bowles and Simpson released their paper the same day British students took to the streets in violent protests over Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity measures. You could imagine Republican strategists watching TV and thinking to themselves, "When we said 'Tea Party' we meant the peaceful kind."

Matt Miller says the new proposal isn't enough, and he is no doubt right. He's certainly more right than the Pelosis or Norquists, who live in a fictional world where nobody pays more or gets less or gets older or sicker or needier, and our balance sheets miraculously balance themselves, and we kick China's butt, because this is America!

Ezra Klein complains that the commission construct is useless because they have no power and have no votes and can't get anything done. He writes:


the report doesn't fulfill its basic purpose, which was demonstrating enough consensus among congressional representatives of both parties to convince the public and the political system that Congress is ready to make these choices.

But Klein, apparently without irony, also says, "Some of it I like, some of it I don't like, and some of it I need to think more about." Exactly. This is precisely why the commission is not an effort to build bipartisan congressional consensus.

Which brings me to the rogue part of the operation. Bowles and Simpson surely released their thoughts because they can't get 14 commissioners to support them and because they certainly can't get either party on board. If they feel strongly about the deficit, they should go totally independent, get some private funding, and engage in the 2012 elections. Demand a balanced budget plan from every national candidate. Release an independent report card of what the deficit will look like for each plan (and run TV ads showing, e.g., "Sarah Palin's deficit reduction plan: F.") And in case anyone needs a real wakeup call, play some footsie with Mike Bloomberg if and when he gets bored in New York.

This report is a conversation starter, not an end-point. Every politician in America is going to try to run like hell from the commission, because while lots of people admire David Cameron, no one wants to be him. But Rome is burning, and we need some people to shine a spotlight on the fiddlers occupying both sides of the aisle in the Capitol building.

Kevin Huffman was the winner of The Post's America's Next Great Pundit Contest in 2009. You can read his new blog, Off the Huff, here.

By Kevin Huffman  | November 11, 2010; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Huffman  | Tags:  Kevin Huffman  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Sorry, Alan and Erskine -- it's not nearly enough
Next: The good and bad of Iraq's political deal

Comments

I read about how bad the deficit is. The reasoning seems sound. And yet, when I look at long-term interest rates, both here and overseas, they are saying there is no problem. If we really were facing a serious prospect of rapid inflation, outright default, or both, wouldn't you expect the long-term interest rates to be higher? Yet they are not. (Anyone who thinks that the Fed can control the long-term rates needs to explain why price controls work on bond prices when they don't work very well on other prices.)

Our politicians aren't going to take large political risks until and unless the markets start sending them signals that catastrophe lies ahead. And they shouldn't. Only fools can be confident of what the future holds.

Posted by: BreckJack | November 11, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This was a presidential commission. Why was the report not released by the White House?

It was never intended to demonstrate consensus among congressional representatives or to convince the public of anything. It was merely a political ploy to give the impression Obama was concerned over massive deficit spending (har har).

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 11, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"raise your hand if you were stunned when Nancy Pelosi disavowed it for cutting benefits and Grover Norquist slammed it for raising taxes?"

Everything proposed by the committee is aimed at further destruction of the middle class.

No one has the stones to say our current method of income tax is a joke.

We need to switch to a "Transaction Tax" ... listen to Grover Norquist howl now!!

http://www.apttax.com/

Posted by: knjincvc | November 11, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The deficit is caused primarily by of the collapse of the economy and the staggering loss of revenue.

TARP and subsequent stimulus contributed to the deficit but were required to prevent a Depression equal to that of 1930's.

During Bush/Republican rule we doubled the deficit to provide for unpaid-for tax breaks for the wealthiest americans, to start 2 unpaid-for tragically worthless wars, and of course to pass the largest increase in government: the unpaid-for Republican Medicare Part D law to the tune of about $650 billion dollars.

Some analysts attribute at least 40% of the growth of the deficit since 2000 to the Bush/Republican tax cuts.

Simpson-Bowles is just another rightwing attempt to take down social programs and to make government smaller that the Republicans actually made significantly larger during their reign of power.

For an interesting interview on the vile and asinine Simpson:

Go to youtube and search for "alan simpson firedoglake".

For interesting read by a noted economist on the Bowles/Simpson plan:

http://www.newdeal20.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/deficitcommissionrv.pdf

Posted by: mickster1 | November 11, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, who elected them? They are an appointed group that is partly/mostly funded by lobbyists.

Go 'rogue' on what basis?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | November 11, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The report is a fraud. Why? Because it envisions cutting taxes on rich people and corporations by about 1/3. Obviously it isn't a debt-reduction strategy, it's a strategy designed to move more money from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy.

Posted by: scoogy | November 11, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

sounds like a good plan to me, unless you can't give up your tax loopholes. We could go back to clinton tax rates, where the deficit was eliminated, the debt paid down and we had a robust economy. go figure! Let those Bush tax cuts expire for all.

Posted by: bern2 | November 11, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

sounds like a good plan to me, unless you can't give up your tax loopholes. We could go back to clinton tax rates, where the deficit was eliminated, the debt paid down and we had a robust economy. go figure! Let those Bush tax cuts expire for all.

Posted by: bern2 | November 11, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

The proposal of the chairmen of the debt reduction commission has many flaws, but there are two that are glaring, one large, one small. The large flaw is the proposal to reduce marginal rates which is just the opposite of what history clearly shows the country needs. Since 1900 the two periods with the lowest marginal rates were the years leading up to 1929 and 2008. These also were the times of greatest economic inequality. They both led to disaster. The most recent time of high taxes on the Rich was 1946 - 1973, a period of great prosperity during which the debt went from 120% of the GDP to 32% of the GDP.

The small flaw is only small because it affects a relative small number of people. That is caps on medical malpractice awards. This will save little or no money. The evidence is overwhelming. The CBO and others have shown that not only do states with such caps have no lower health care costs than states without such caps, but the frequency of tests and treatments is no lower in these states. "Defensive medicine" is a myth. What caps do accomplish is to make it difficult to sue because there is not enough of a possible payment to to pay for the expensive trials. Read "A Civil Judgment" to get an idea of how the playing field is already slanted against injured people. This will increase the tilt.

This small flaw is important because it starkly illustrates hoe the proposal is not data driven, but is simply a political and ideological view of Bowles and Simpson which was all too predictable.

Posted by: lensch | November 12, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Not another DOA Grreat Grain Robbery. American cereal can cost more to subsidize Chinese cereal comrades. Plus you lose farm to crafty Chinese investors with DC connections.

Posted by: jobandon | November 12, 2010 3:48 AM | Report abuse

Evertything this clown writes should be evaluated in light of the fact that he actually married Michelle Rhee. (And she him.)

Posted by: misterjrthed | November 12, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

How stupid can you get?!

Posted by: boxman14191 | November 12, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

kitchendragon wrote>>>It was merely a political ploy to give the impression Obama was concerned over massive deficit spending (har har).

The Debt commission was the Republicans' IDEA!
Pres. Obama agreed.
Harry Reid put it to a vote and - ALL Senate Republicans voted "No!"

Republicans are good at saying "No!" to good ideas and terrible at governing.

Posted by: angie12106 | November 12, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

kitchendragon wrote>>>This was a presidential commission. Why was the report not released by the White House?

Because the report wasn't released by the commission, but rather by the 2 co-chairs - a rightwing anti-government extremist and a rightwinger posing as a Democrat.

Posted by: angie12106 | November 12, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

The came up with better and bolder ideas than I had. Go for it!

Or do you really like debit and grid lock?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 12, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

"Our politicians aren't going to take large political risks..."

If it is not raining, there is no need to fix the roof.

If it is raining, you can not fix it.

Too bad.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 12, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

The Bowels-Simpleton plan has everything but the kitchen sink and Health Care repeal and thus has drawn fire from most. Anybody can find something they hate.

What did people expect? Some clever way to tax no one, maintain a strong dollar, and ensure that every American would never have to worry about food, heat, health care, or even working.

In the real world, where the independent, moderate voters live, life is choices, hard choices between income, spending, savings, taxes and debit. Surprise, surprise Government has hard choices too.

Posted by: flyover22 | November 12, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

As Dick Cheney said and echo'ed by Ronald Reagan, "DEFICITS DON'T MATTER!" Only when Democrats are in power! Google "History of deficits" and see which party ran them up and what party decreased them! Please take the time to see who the hypocrits are!!!

Posted by: ginger470132 | November 12, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The deficit commission's findings are the same old scam perpetrated by those in power against both the Middle and Lower Classes. Reduce deficits by reducing taxes? In CA that was defined as insanity. Next let's get rid of the one remaining tax deduction that helps the Middle Class -the mortgage deduction. If we all really want to watch the value of all our homes plummet and the economy go right back in the toilet, then this finding is a must. Why not get rid of the Bush tax cuts - all of them? Why not tax capital gains and dividends at the same rate as income? This would mean that the hedge fund managers would be taxed at the regular rates - and not 15%. Why not tax any corporation that makes a profit rather than creating so many loopholes that many pay no income taxes. The oil companies average about 9%. I'm sure that many Americans would love to be taxed at that rate. The tax code is so front loaded for the top 10% of income earners that it's disgusting. What, you say? What about all those folks who pay no taxes because of low incomes? Ummmmm...... when you add on both payroll and other "hidden" taxes, these folks are paying out a large share of their meager income to the government. And last, but not least, raising the retirement age for SS to 69 or 70 is ludicrous. Those who don't need it - the upper classes - live to ripe old ages. Those who need it - the lower classes - have a much shorter life expectancy and many would be dead by 70. How many 70 yr old manual laborers does anyone see out there? As usual our once democratic government arranges things so that the wealthy get the oil wells. The rest of us get the shaft.

Posted by: jharris99 | November 12, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"This report is a conversation starter, not an end-point."

Really? Not enough conversation going on about the deficit?

Posted by: publius1 | November 12, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Going too Rogue: Debt Commission's report is a Tea Party Manifesto recycled from the campaign. Read the latest at www.muddypolitics.com: http://bit.ly/d7Xh6y

Posted by: BeckingOrder25 | November 12, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Going too Rogue: Debt Commission's report is a Tea Party Manifesto recycled from the campaign. Read the latest at www.muddypolitics.com: http://bit.ly/d7Xh6y

Posted by: BeckingOrder25 | November 12, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Going too Rogue: Debt Commission's report is a Tea Party Manifesto recycled from the campaign. Read the latest at www.muddypolitics.com: http://bit.ly/d7Xh6y

Posted by: BeckingOrder25 | November 12, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company