Chait goes on to say that this deal calls for ten times as much spending cuts as revenue increases, and that this would be a horrible deal for Democrats (to say nothing of the country).I think that's definitional in this political environment. Even the vaunted 1983 social security deal --- which really was anticipating a short term funding crisis --- ended up being 65% cuts to 35% revenue. (That's why I don't get to retire until I'm almost 67 and neither does anyone else who's younger than I.)
It would. But where has Chait been? This isn’t a surprise at all. The Obama budget has a mix of 2/3 spending cuts and 1/3 revenue. The Republican budget has all spending cuts and is almost impossibly cruel. Bowles-Simpson’s ratio, I believe, was 3/4 spending, 1/4 revenue. Split the difference and you’re up to 5/6 or 7/8 spending cuts. That’s not appreciably different than what’s coming out here. Democrats have always created severe imbalances in these “grand bargain” deals in favor of spending cuts, maybe because they think that’s what can pass or something, maybe because they (or more to the point, their wealthy donors) prefer spending cuts.
I’d love to see just one Democrat come out and say, “You know, just letting the Bush tax cuts expire completely would solve the entire medium-term deficit issue. And we wouldn’t even have to pass anything. Were the Clinton-era tax rates so burdensome?” But to date, that hasn’t happened. So you get these monstrously bad spending-heavy “grand bargains.”
Mitchell: Did he punt on the budget as he's accused of by the Republicans, or is it at least a first draft?
Walker: He punted on the structural deficit challenges. You know, he had a commission, the national fiscal responsibility and reform commission. They really tried to deal with the tough issues of the structural deficit. And frankly, their recommendations didn't seem to get much consideration by the administration and its budget. You know, the president is the chief executive officer of the united states government.The entity that he leads has a deteriorating financial condition and it could have its own debt crisis within three to five years if it doesn't change course. He needs to lead.
Mitchell: What about the argument that if he puts something out there, Savannah Guthrie was on the program earlier, and he said that their strategy is to play his cards close to the vest, my words, not theirs, and wait to see what the other side proposes, see if there's anything that come to senate negotiation, bipartisan negotiation, and then come in, rather than having everyone taking pot shots at what he puts out there.
Walker: The chief executive officer has a responsibility to lead, no matter what type of enterprise it is.
Now, we'll see what the Republicans come up with.They've now said recently that they might come up with some specific proposals as part of the house budget. We'll see whether that's the case. Realistically, we need to do the following.
There needs to be an agreement between the president and congress on short-term spending as part of the continuing resolution.
They're arguing over the bar tab on a ship that's headed towards an iceberg that could sink it. So they need to get perspective. Secondly, they need to end up focusing on the debt ceiling limit. We need to bring back tough budget controls with automatic enforcement mechanisms starting in 2013.
Mitchell: You know, there are some people, including fiscal hawks like my colleague, Lawrence O'donnell, who's been making the case that you're making. But he says we have to be very careful about not cutting too much during this weak economic period. That we can agree to cuts. I think my sense is that many people believe you should agree to something now that triggers in later. Would that do the trick?
Walker: We clearly need to recognize the difference between the short-term and the structural. Look, the real threat is not today's deficits and debt. We can have more tolerance for spending and targeted investments in the short-term if we have a plan to deal with the real threat.What's going on right now is a moral tragedy.We're mortgaging the future of our kids and grandkids at record rates. But how we solve the problem involves moral issues as well.