MY VIEW: Alan Simpson February 2013
Responding to a U.S. News and World Report "Debate Club" question on the new framework from former Fiscal Commission co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, Simpson writes that the new proposal is needed, as we cannot afford another year of fiscal brinkmanship without making substantial progress on our debt problem.
Their new proposal is not meant to be a replacement to the original recommendations of the Fiscal Commission, rather a framework to achieve the next $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction and replace the sequester. Simpson writes:
This country needs to act—and soon—to put in place a plan which will truly deal with our destructive debt problem and put that debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy. And we shouldn't do that with stupid, mindless, across-the-board cuts (sequester) to important investments; we should replace these cuts with targeted spending cuts, structural entitlement reforms, and comprehensive tax reform.
We simply can not afford another year of fiscal brinksmanship with no real solutions being offered by either side. There is no way around it: Democrats and Republicans are going to have to come together to find common ground if they have any hope of hauling the country back on a fiscally sustainable path.
Our present activity is to remind both sides how close they were last December before negotiations broke down. And we wanted to push both sides to go outside of their comfort zones in the spirit of principled compromise.
We said that Democrats are going to have to go further in reforming entitlements, particularly healthcare—than they would want, but we can and must do it in a way that protects the most vulnerable in our society. We said Republicans are going to have to accept more revenues, not through tax increases but through tax reform which repeals or reforms various deductions, exclusions, loopholes, and credits—which are really just spending by another name and most of which go mainly to the wealthy—in order to reduce the deficit and lower rates.
There is no one solution to the problem, and the proposal we put forward is not perfect and is not even our ideal plan. It is the minimum that needs to be done to bring our debt under control. It is going to take real guts and political courage on both sides to come together to find common ground for the good of the country. We hope this plan can serve as a mark for those discussions to move forward.
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"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.