Michael Tomasky

12.03.12

Boehner's Bowles Plan Has a Detractor: Bowles

So, the House Republicans made their counter-offer today. But it's not much of a counter-offer. Josh Barro of Bloomberg identifies three problems: 1, zero specifics; 2, what description there is of the tax numbers doesn't add up; 3, it doesn't really avert the fiscal cliff, it just substitutes a different set of cuts that they prefer to the ones that would happen under sequestration.

On the first point, Barro writes:

The letter says Republicans want to cut $900 billion from mandatory spending and $300 billion from discretionary spending, but they On the tax side, they agree to $800 billion in new revenue from "pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates." But they don't endorse specific loophole closures or propose a new rate structure.don't say what or how they want to cut. The letter nods toward a proposal sketched out by Erskine Bowles, the cornerstone of which is a gradual increase in the Medicare age, but it lacks specifics.

On the tax side, they agree to $800 billion in new revenue from "pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates." But they don't endorse specific loophole closures or propose a new rate structure.

It's always the same story with these people. They have these policy goals that they know are quite unpopular outside their besotted 30 percent, so they'll never put specifics to them until the last possible second. But until then, anyone would be a fool to trust them. The only thing they really care about is cutting high-end tax rates, but they know full well that they can't say that, so they make us all play these silly games.

I'm sure Boehner and crew thought they were being clever by basing their proposal on a 2011 op-ed by Erskine Bowles. But within a couple of hours of the Boehner plan's release, it was denounced by none other than Erskine Bowles.

Let's keep remembering, folks, that they're going through all these contortions basically so as not to raise the top tax rate 4.6 percent on taxable income above $250,000, which a little less than 2 percent of the population even has. Deeply unserious people.