Like the proverbial poltergeists from a certain sequel to an 80’s horror flick, former co-chairs of the national debt commission that President Obama chartered to create a plan to balance the federal government’s budget, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, have returned with an updated plan to raise $600 billion in taxes by closing “loopholes” while cutting spending by $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years.
The Wall Street Journal provides an overview of their updated proposal to bring the federal government’s budget into balance:
The new $2.4 trillion Simpson-Bowles proposal would identify $600 billion in spending reductions through changes to health-care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. That is roughly $200 billion more than the White House has said it is willing to accept.
The health-care component is perhaps the most detailed of any part of the package, calling for “improving provider and beneficiary incentives throughout the health care system, reducing provider payments, reforming cost-sharing, increasing premiums for higher earners, adjusting benefits to account for population aging, reducing drug costs, and getting better value for our health care dollars.”
Another $600 billion in deficit-reduction would come from curbing or ending a number of tax breaks. This is about in line with the level of increased revenue White House officials have said they are seeking, but most Republicans have said they won’t accept any tax increases as part of a deficit-reduction package.
The final $1.2 trillion in the proposal would come from lower caps on discretionary spending—the type Congress approves annually—changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated for Social Security checks and other government benefits, cuts to farm subsidies, and changes to military and civilian retirement programs, among other things.
Unlike their previous effort, where they created a detailed plan for reforming the nation’s taxes and spending, Simpson and Bowles have sought to create a basic, workable framework around which a bipartisan deal can ultimately be negotiated in their current effort — one that can meet the goal of genuinely improving the nation’s fiscal situation. Unlike say other bipartisan deals in recent years where the stated spending cuts have been mostly phony.
Bowles and Simpson have made their updated outline for a new federal budget and national debt deal available at their Moment of Truth Project web site.