Cooper-LaTourette was not Bowles-Simpson

The Bipartisan Policy Center has a post up on the budget resolution offered last night by Rep. Cooper (D) and Rep. LaTourette (R),and which was overwhelminngly rejected (it got only 38 votes). This budget has been referred to as Bowles-Simpson after the report/proposal from the fiscal commission chairs, but it differed substantially from that proposal in two main ways:

  • raised around $1 Trillion less in taxes over 10 years
  • cut non-defense discretionary spending by much more

As Loren Adler (@LorenAdler) and Shai Akabas (@ShaiAkabas) note, the budget is notable in that it was offered by a Democrat and a Republican, but it is not correct to say that it was Bowles-Simpson. They have two nice charts comparing all the budgets that have been debated in the House, compared to Bowles-Simpson and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Domenici-Rivlin plan, in terms of revenue and spending, and cumulative debt, both in terms of GDP in 2022.

Now, 38 votes (only 180 to go!) is not exactly suggesting a bipartisan budget is just around the corner, but at least members from different parties were talking. However, we shouldn’t say that Bowles-Simpson was rejected because there are some big differences between the reality of the budget offered by Reps. Cooper and LaTourette and Bowles-Simpson.

POTUS and the Fiscal Commission

Jackie Calmes with an interesting piece on President Obama and the Fiscal Commission report.

In my book Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority, coming out in April 2012 from Springer, I write that I think the President made a mistake in not embracing the Fiscal Commission report. This doesn’t mean that I think his embrace would have meant it would have passed. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that Republicans would oppose Obama on just about anything. However, there are several ways in which President Obama embracing the report would have helped politically, as well as in policy terms (maybe).

  • The Fiscal Commission report assumes the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and identifies next steps. Republicans have gotten away with only being clear on what they are against on health reform, and have not coalesced around a replacement plan. Embracing the Fiscal Commission plan could have made it harder for Republicans to get away with only being clear about what they are against.
  • The tax reform approach offered in the report raises around $2 Trillion in taxes over 10 years. While this plan was noted as being too conservative when it first came out, it raises more in taxes than any other plan that has come out. It raised far more in taxes that the outlines of the ‘near deal’ between Speaker Boehner and the President.
  • The goal posts have moved ‘right’ on almost every issue since the initial release of the plan. For example, the Fiscal Commission plan does not propose raising the Medicare age, but that was a part of the potential Boehner/Obama deal, and momentum for this idea has increased.

As the Calmes piece notes, the Fiscal Commission report has remained in the mix, and it is the yardstick to which most any proposal put forth is compared. I think there is a sense in which to eventual grand bargain is likely to look a great deal like the Fiscal Commission report, the question is whether such an agreement can be made short of some sort of economic calamity or not. My book tries to make the Progressive case for seeking such a deal sooner, rather than later.