Night of the Simpson-Bowles

Night of the Simpson-BowlesI don’t mean to scare you, but I found out some stuff this morning. Man! I don’t even want to tell you guys. It’s just so horrible. Ezra Klein writes, 11 Shocking, True Facts About Simpson-Bowles.

See your home interest deduction vanish!
Feel capital gains cuts taxed as income!
Scream at defense budget cuts!
See Night of the Simpson-Bowles if you dare!

Yes kiddos, the Simpson-Bowles plan is more liberal than you probably know. But that’s not because it is liberal. (There is a proposal that I will write about later, but it ain’t Simpson-Bowles.) It is just that with the conservative bias of debt discussion even on liberal MSNBC, their proposal doesn’t look that bad.

Klein lists 11 items that are supposed to shock us. In fact, most of them are not even surprising. But a few are:

  1. Simpson-Bowles ends the the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 (I know)
  2. There are a lot of tax increases in Simpson-Bowles (I know)
  3. There are so many tax increases that the plan is nearly 1:1 (hmm)
  4. Simpson-Bowles taxes capital gains and dividends as normal income (great)
  5. Charities, homes, health care and states (needlessly complicated)
  6. Simpson-Bowles raises the gas tax by 15 cents (good)
  7. Congress has already passed 70 percent of the discretionary cuts (not surprising)
  8. Simpson-Bowles cuts security spending by $1.4 trillion, not including drawing down the wars (yep)
  9. The Social Security changes (I know; the cap raise is great)
  10. Paul Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles (I know)
  11. Simpson-Bowles went down in the House, 382-38 (not surprising)

So there is really nothing shocking in this list. It is nice to see that the Simpson-Bowles proposal is not quite as bad as I’d thought. But mostly, it was fun to do the poster.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

5 thoughts on “Night of the Simpson-Bowles

  1. I think the proverbial fly in the ointment in all of this is that, regardless of whether tax rates go up or down and/or there are DEEP spending cuts, government corruption while simply off-set any benefits of ANY plan.

    I have to live within my modest means, the (government) should have to do the same. (I wanna’ vote myself a raise in salary and benefits!!!)

  2. @ThrashMikki – That’s a very cynical view, and I dare say dangerous. By claiming that the whole system is corrupt (or claiming as almost all conservatives do that the two sides are equally wrong), you are allowing misbehavior to go unpunished. There is a reason why the punishment for murder is greater than the punishment for bank robbery. We are all corrupt–not just politicians. The question is the level. I don’t want to go into here, but very simply: this is a false centrism. I would rather a conservative partisan, than someone who dismisses arguments by throwing up their hands and claiming it is hopeless.

    I’m not saying that’s you. Regardless, we all have our moods.

    As for the second part: that’s true and false. Local and state governments have to live within their means like the rest of us. The federal government does not. They have much more flexibility and now is [i]not[/i] the time for belt tightening.

    I really appreciate your perspective. Mostly, everyone agrees with me around here. And that’s not good for anyone. Keep telling me I’m full of shit and I’ll send it right back at you!

    (I’ll vote for your raise. Just get it on the ballot. It’s easy here in California!)

  3. I’ve been sick with the flu all week. Not only am I extra-cynical, I REALLY couldn’t care less….or more….about the Beltway phucks. I will forever regard politicians as the lowest possible form of wasted cytoplasm…..at least until someone comes along and proves me wrong.

    But I am curious: are you in favor of increased spending across the board? If so, how, in your opinion, will raising the debt ceiling and printing more $$$ to spend on all of the government’s wants & whims help the economy in both the short and long terms? I’m not trying to pick a fight. I confess, I just don’t understand (I’m not an economist. I only know that the last time I tried spending my way out of bankruptcy it didn’t work.).

    As I understand from a (quite liberal) economist colleague that, even IF Congress 1) made DEEP spending cuts and 2) raised taxes to the highest percentage possible, it would be impossible to even balance the budget without doing (in his words) "immense" damage to the U.S. economy "most likely bankrupt the country". Again, I’m not an economist nor do I play one on TV. He is and has been for 40 years. I presume he has at least a clue as to what he’s talkin’ (& teachin’) about.

    Just curious…….

  4. @ThrashMikki – I am not really worried about the deficit. The government [i]should[/i] be running a deficit right now because we are in recession. See this article:

    http://franklycurious.com/index.php?itemid=3270

    Larry Summers has some great tax reform ideas here:

    http://franklycurious.com/index.php?itemid=3266

    What your friend is referring to is probably the Fiscal Cliff. We can’t balance the budget all at once (especially in a weak economy) without doing a lot of damage. The main way to balance the budget is to fix the economy. People think Clinton balanced the budget through cuts. That’s not really true. He balanced it primarily by having a great economy. As it shows in the first link above, if we weren’t in recession, our deficit would be much less than half of what it is today.

    I hope that makes sense. I’m sick myself.

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