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Thursday, November 08, 2012

America Hates Simpson-Bowles More Than Beltway Insiders Love It

The conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., and in much of the media, is that because of the debt, we need to cut benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A bipartisan commission led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles has promoted a plan that would cut Social Security benefits, shift Medicare costs to beneficiaries, lower tax rates for the wealthy and corporations and increase the tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas. Bowles and Simpson have been promoting their plan heavily and took to endorsing candidates who they believed would support their plan. Voters on Tuesday rejected all of the candidates that both Bowles and Simpson endorsed.


Anonymous said...

correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't obama commission this cat-food commission? and didn't he win an election? maybe that's not the same as endorsing it, but, i thought he did endorse it.

Dale Carrico said...

Indeed, to a point, although the recommendations of the commission were not agreed upon by the commission itself and Obama campaigned explicitly against some of the commission's recommendations. So it's a rather odd thing to propose that winning an election after incessantly demanding tax increases on the rich and insisting on the protection of Social Security and the refusal to voucherize medicare would then be seen as an endorsement of the opposite of all those things. Obama adores bringing up S-B as a bipartisan symbol to conjure with, but one has to take care about how you read such invocations.

One must be very careful to know the difference between what seems to be said versus what terms of art actually signal among policymakers -- Boehner conceding the possibility of raising revenue does not necessarily mean conceding raising tax rates (it is more likely an initial positioning allowing for closing unspecified tax loopholes a la Romney, not a concession at all), Obama conceding the possibility of entitlement reform does not necessarily mean raising the retirement ago or rolling out voucherizing pilot programs (it is more likely an initial positioning on raising the taxable income cap to extend the life of SS and making savings on medicare by lowering waste/ fraud/ abuse through a diversion of ever more healthcare into more regulated and not-for-profit Obamacare and related programs, not a major concession at all, though Obama would likely compromise much more on rates and regulations than his supporters would like in the name of reaching a deal).