Remember the deficit-shrinking plans?
Three budget proposals all found ways to shrink the deficit. Where did they find common ground?
[Editor's note: This blog is being released out-of-sequence: It was written before the Obama-GOP deal had been publicized, so the text does not refer to that plan in any way.]Skip to next paragraph
'EconomistMom' (Diane Lim Rogers) is Chief Economist of the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan, non-profit organization which advocates for fiscal responsibility, and the mom of four (amazing) kids to whom she dedicates her work. She’s been blogging since Mother’s Day 2008.
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By now we’ve seen a number of proposals for fiscal sustainability from groups with very different perspectives–including groups that say that the deficit is not a problem and even talking about it as such is what’s really dangerous and even evil, and yet offer up their way to solve it anyway(!). Some of these harshest critics of the bipartisan deficit-reduction panels are liberal-leaning groups that argue that the recommendations of the President’s commission, as well as those of the Bipartisan Policy Center and the MacGuineas-Galston plan, leaned too heavy toward the conservative side and proposed packages that were too heavy on spending cuts and too insistent on keeping taxes (too) low. (I may agree that I would have preferred more revenue increases in the overall mix than the President’s commission proposed, but I don’t think that should lead me to declare the overall proposal “dead on arrival” or to reject the the individual policies contained within it.)
I’ve seen two sets of policy proposals coming from the liberal-leaning/progressive groups as alternative visions of how the deficit can be reduced–one by the Institute for America’s Future’s “Citizens’ Commission” (whose members include Dean Baker, Robert Borosage, Robert Kuttner, and Robert Reich) and another by the “Our Fiscal Security” project, a partnership of Demos, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Century Foundation. I actually like a lot of the policy substance in these more liberal-leaning packages when I muster up my “loving kindness”/yogi heart and am able to see past the deficit-hawk hatred and character assassination that these groups or the individuals in these groups–particularly those involved in the “Citizens’ Commission”–often shroud their proposals in.
Meanwhile, there have been plenty of critics from the opposite, conservative-leaning side who have been arguing that the bipartisan plans raise taxes too much; just see this critique from the Heritage Foundation or anything that Grover Norquist (or his organization, Americans for Tax Reform) has said. Of course, Congressman Paul Ryan, the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, has had (well before these commissions’ proposals) his own fiscal sustainability plan that keeps taxes as a share of the economy low enough–below 19 percent–to please these conservative groups and his party’s caucus.