It has been nearly two years since the commission they chaired, which I served on, finished its work. The duo's proposal has attained almost mythical status in
But everyone look again. They will discover that it is far less than meets the eye.
Have Simpson-Bowles' champions read it? Given any real scrutiny, this plan falls far short of being a serious, workable or reasonable proposal – from either an economic or political analysis.
In one of its few specific points, for example, Simpson-Bowles mandates a top individual tax rate of 29 percent "or less." Much like the vague Romney proposals, the Simpson-Bowles plan would make up the shortfall by eliminating tax loopholes, suggesting options such as having employees pay taxes on their health benefits. Not only is this likely to increase costs to middle-income families, it could threaten coverage altogether. The proposal for corporate tax reform would eliminate taxes on profits earned overseas, rewarding companies that move jobs offshore.
Somehow, being willing to cut "entitlement" benefits has been called a "badge of courage" for those who purport to be serious about deficit reduction- despite the fact that
Under Simpson-Bowles, long-term solvency for
They propose raising the age of full
For future retirees, all these changes taken together would reduce the average annual benefit for middle-income workers – those with annual earnings of
Simpson-Bowles also targets
"Obamacare" took a different approach, lowering costs without reducing benefits.
Bowles and Simpson like to say their plan was designed to protect "the truly disadvantaged." Really? They put spending caps in place that would force a 14 percent cut in domestic programs by 2013, increasing to a 22 percent cut in 2022. The severity would absolutely require cuts in programs vital to low-income people, including housing,
No doubt some of the principles undergirding the Simpson-Bowles plan are solid. They raise some revenue as well as make cuts, though they rely much more on the cuts. They put the military budget on the table and make significant cuts there. They focus for the first time on tax expenditures – tax breaks of all sorts. They modestly raise the wage cap for
At the end of the day, however, if the only real debate about what do for the economy and how to address our fiscal challenges falls somewhere between the draconian "VoucherCare" Romney-Ryan budget and Simpson-Bowles, the middle class and those who aspire to it are in serious trouble.
It's time for a robust defense of the social insurance programs that have helped build the middle class and have made America great, as well as a tax structure that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
Simpson-Bowles deserves a lot more scrutiny, and alternative proposals – such as the one I offered the commission and the
The good news is that there is a better way.
Read this original document at: http://schakowsky.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3128&Itemid=16
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