The Center for American Progress (CAP) is out with a budget plan that would reduce deficits by $4.1 trillion over the next decade and, at first glance, seems to makes a good deal of sense.
Two former Treasury secretaries—Larry Summers and Robert Rubin—are listed as co-authors of the plan, along with Roger Altman, William Daley, John Podesta, Leslie Samuels, Neera Tanden, Antonio Weiss, Michael Ettlinger, Seth Hanlon, and Michael Linden. An impressive brain trust by any measure.
Top Democrats and leading progressives are arguing that Social Security shouldn't be part of negotiations over the fiscal cliff. As Senator Richard Durbin said in a speech on Tuesday:
Social Security doesn't add a penny to the debt and should not be part of any deficit reduction talks. We can and must do what we can to ensure its solvency for another 75 years, but that is another topic for another time.
Likewise, writing in the Huffington Post yesterday, my colleague Bob Kuttner called Social Security (and Medicare) "extraneous" to the fiscal challenges at hand. Moreover, Kuttner writes:
The tax cuts enacted by Congress under George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 stand as the greatest achievement ever for small government conservatives. While a good chunk of Reagan's historic tax cuts had been cancelled out before he even left office, Bush's tax cuts have lived on and on, draining trillions from the U.S. Treasury.
These cuts have not, as hoped, triggered deep cuts in government spending and "starved the beast." Instead, they have simply fed the debt.
Today's job numbers show that the economy continues to creep in the right direction—but also that job creation will remain a paramount challenge over the next few years. The problem is not just the millions of working-age adults who remain unemployed or under-employed. It's also that the labor force is growing every month by some 100,000 would-be workers, according to the Hamilton Project—or over a million people every year who need work.
With millions of Americans struggling to recover from Sandy, few people question that government has a central role to play in rebuilding battered communities in New Jersey and other states.
Natural disasters are often highpoint moments for the public sector, reminding us of the power of common institutions that allow citizens to help each other in times of need. The residents, say, of sunny Los Angeles needn't do anything special at this moment, because they have already been doing something—helping fund FEMA with their tax dollars so that it has the capacity to respond to unexpected events like a "Frankenstorm."