Paul Krugman gets to the heart of the liberal objection to Simpson-Bowles:
It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?
As Krugman notes, Simpson and Bowles begin with a firm commitment to "lower rates" and cap spending at 21 percent of GDP. "Deficit reduction" is the last on their list of priorities, despite the fact that this is a deficit-reduction commission. Every "hard decision" is shifted to poor people, and every new burden is heaped on working- and middle-class Americans. The wealthy lose their deductions? Great, but like most of the (few) good ideas in Simpson-Bowles, it's outweighed by the fact that the proposal is guided by the basic assumption that rich people deserve the lowest possible taxes, for the simple reason -- I suppose -- that they are rich.
What's more, is obviously the case that any legislative version of this proposal would quickly dispense with the "pain" for rich people and pile more of the burden on everyone else. Simpson and Bowles' suggested reduction in military and agricultural spending would be ignored, and those cuts would be shifted toward spending for people who can't afford to lobby their representatives for favorable treatment.
The middle class is eroding, the working class is collapsing, and our country's infrastructure is disintegrating in plain view, but our elites look past it all, and decide the real crime is that ordinary Americans get too much from the government. It's baffling.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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