Comparing 32 Deficit Reduction Plans While Trying To Lift The Gloom Over The Budget Talks
The Committee for A Responsible Federal Budget has just posted a very handy side-by-side comparison of 32 deficit reduction plans. You can use this tool to compare any three at a time. This is Budget Wonk Heaven.
Of course, our problem is not a lack of plans; it's finding one plan that can pass both houses of Congress and can get President Obama's signature by August 2, which Treasury just reaffirmed today.
At Cheri Reidy's retirement reception at the Senate Budget Committee Wednesday -- She has put in 29 years of top-notch service to our country, starting at the desk next to mine -- I heard staff and members from both parties talking down: President Obama; leaders of the other party; leaders of their own party; and the futile 3:30 p.m. sequester briefing that interfered with final arrangements for Cheri's party. She was given a very warm and heartfelt sendoff in any event, but the gloom over the budget talks hung heavy.
I'm reminded of Churchill's quip: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else."
I would note that most members of Congress equate election defeat with cutting spending or with raising taxes and reelection with staunchly siding with one or the other. The trick will be for the voters to convince them in the next few weeks that they will be defeated if they don't do some of both. Why should spending in the Tax Code be exempt? Why should unrestrained entitlement spending be exempt? There are plenty of loopholes that can be closed without hurting growth, and there are plenty of entitlement cuts that won't hurt the provision of health care or take benefits from the poor.
I can't find any reasons to be optimistic at this point, but I do believe a deal will be cut in mid-July to extend the debt limit through the end of this year with some discretionary spending caps, some entitlement cuts, some loophole closers, and some debt trigger or sequester to enforce future deficit reduction. Then a larger deficit reduction and debt limit increase through 2012 will be enacted late this year or early next year.
Keep those deficit reduction proposals coming.