Thursday, November 10, 2011

Supercommittee proposal would raise $500 billion in new revenue--but Democrats reject it

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pat Toomey and the five other Republicans on the Congressional "deficit supercommittee" recently proposed a plan with $750 billion in spending cuts and $300-500 billion in new revenue over 10 years. Under the plan, tax rates would be cut--the top rate would fall from 35% to 28%, and rates from other brackets would be lowered proportionally. However, the plan more than makes up for it by severely limiting deductions, very similar to a bipartisan tax reform measure that was enacted in 1986. The Joint Tax Committee determined that even with no economic growth, the tax changes would raise $300 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. (An additional $100-200 billion would come from changing the way tax brackets are adjusted for inflation.)

Democrats, however, rejected the proposal. And one can only wonder why. There were no cuts to Medicare or Medicaid. The 1.5 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases is better for the Dems than the 3 to 1 ratio promised by the Simpson-Bowles plan.

It could be that Democrats see lower tax rates as symbolically intolerable, even if the rich (who reap most of the benefits from tax deductions) would actually pay more under the new plan. Or, it could be that they see "compromise" as a 1 to 1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. In that case, it seems the Democrats would have rejected Simpson-Bowles as well, unless (as some conservative critics claim) it was a bluff containing spending cuts that would never materialize.

Either way, Democrats have just defeated a plan that provided the "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that they keep clamoring for. And by eliminating deductions, it would have made the tax code more fair and helped to curb special interest power as well.


  1. There's got to be a political angle on this, but I can't see what they are up to yet.

  2. Could it be that the democrats figure that the automatic cuts that will come into play, if they can't reach agreement, will hurt them less. The automatic cuts are across the board and fairly devoid of good thinking. Maybe the Dems think this will be less damaging to them then if they went along with reasonable cut that ended up hurting some of their special interests?