Budget commissions are all the rage right now, and Dick Armey’s Freedomworks have put together a Tea Party-flavored panel of their own to try and mark down a specific legislative goals for the movement.
According to the group, the Tea Party Debt Commission is modeled the White House’s own commission, led by Erksine Bowles and Alan Simpson, which recommended about $4 trillion in savings through cuts and revenue increases and drew support from Democratic and Republican Senators who are now trying to negotiate a similar deal amongst themselves. Rather than relying on a blue-ribbon gathering of economists, former budget officials, and retired lawmakers, however, the Tea Party version will consist of 18 local activists from 2012 swing states and focus on finding a consensus among the grassroots.
According to the New York Times, the group already has several benchmarks in mind for a final deal:
The activists, along with FreedomWorks staff, came up with parameters for their budget proposals, declaring that they would have to balance the federal budget within 10 years, reduce federal spending to 18 percent of the gross domestic product, reduce the national debt to no more than 66 percent of the G.D.P., assume that revenue accounts for no more than 19 percent of the G.D.P., reduce federal spending by at least $300 billion in the first year and reduce federal spending by at least $9 trillion over 10 years.
The 10 year goal and 18% spending cap represent a much more radical approach than either the Erksine/Bowles commission or the House GOP, who wouldn’t erase annual deficits for several decades under Paul Ryan’s budget. It’s especially difficult given that the plan will almost certainly not raise taxes. Given these limitations, it seems likely the final product will have to include massive cuts to entitlement programs and their current beneficiaries.
The budget may be too late to the party to make its maximum impact, however. Republicans and Democrats are working on a deficit deal in order to raise the debt ceiling that could potentially set in stone the next decade’s spending cuts. Tea Party groups have been relatively vague in their goals for the talks thus far, so having a solid plan may have been helpful.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.