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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

 
Grand Bargain BS talk 'o the day

by digby

I would probably be more worried about this latest Senate Gang of whatever, Simpson Bowles circle jerk if I thought it had the least chance of going anywhere.  This is basically the same stuff they've been saying for a while, but with a new mixture of details between triggers, downpayments and threats of new and different drop dead dates and cliffs to be hurtled over later:

First, senators would come to an agreement on a deficit reduction target — likely to be around $4 trillion over 10 years — to be reached through revenue raised by an overhaul of the tax code, savings from changes to social programs like Medicare and Social Security, and cuts to federal programs. Once the framework is approved, lawmakers would vote on expedited instructions to relevant Congressional committees to draft the details over six months to a year.

If those efforts failed, another plan would take effect, probably a close derivative of the proposal by President Obama’s fiscal commission led by Erskine B. Bowles, the Clinton White House chief of staff, and former Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming, a Republican. Those recommendations included changes to Social Security, broad cuts in federal programs and actions that would lower tax rates over all but eliminate or pare enough deductions and credits to yield as much as $2 trillion in additional revenue.

If we don't do what they say today, just wait until daddy Simpson and Bowles come home!

Whatever. This is far more salient to this discussion:

On Monday, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released a new study estimating that if nothing is done, the expiration of all the Bush-era tax cuts would raise taxes by more than $500 billion next year alone, an average increase of $3,500 per household. Middle-income families, it said, would see taxes rise by an average of almost $2,000.

Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, said figures like those and forecasts anticipating a recession if nothing is done have prompted some consideration for postponing any tax increases or spending cuts for a year. But he said lawmakers want to lock in action on the deficit now.

What they "want" and what they will be able to get are two different things. Sure they want to "force" all kinds of action, but nobody agrees on what that action should be. And for my money, the only action that makes sense isn't even being discussed, so I'm happy to have them put this off and perhaps eventually put it in the trashbin.

Considering the circumstances and political environment, the best result of all this deficit fulminating we can hope for would be to postpone the tax hikes and postpone the spending cuts. And that's because the "fiscal house" is still on fire and if anyone has any sense at all they'll stop this talking about how much it's going to take to rebuild it and put the blaze out first. Or at the very least stop putting gasoline on the fire. That's pretty weak considering what really needs to be done but at least there's some basic Keynesian logic to it.

I don't know if that's what will happen. It all depends on whether the Democrats agree to take any kind of chump change the Republicans throw out there as a victory and whether the Republicans wise up and see how that would advance their own agenda. If they stay stuck, then postponing both tax hikes and spending cuts would be far better for the economy than anything else that's on the menu. It's not much, but I'd take it.


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