With perhaps a week before the deficit Super Committee has to submit its proposals to Congressional scorekeepers in order to pass a plan by its late-November deadline, members remain far apart — and the GOP’s refusal to accept new tax revenues is at the heart of the matter.
Republicans would dispute this — they claim they’ve been willing to entertain hundreds of billions in new receipts for the government and Democrats aren’t serious about truly cutting entitlements programs. But pair the details of their two competing offers — both of which were leaked to the press in recent days — and the true source of gridlock becomes completely clear.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — no fan of the Democrats’ own plan — paired the numbers properly. CBPP noted that, contrary to standard budgeting, Republicans counted proposed fees, like increases in Medicare premiums, as “revenues,” even though such cost shifting isn’t a tax change, and is typically considered spending reduction. CBPP also completely hived off $200 billion Republicans claimed would result from the secondary economic effects of their plan, since there’s little evidence to back up such “dynamic scoring.”
The problem speaks for itself.
Compared to current policy — which assumes all the Bush tax cuts are extended — Republicans are offering a sliver of tax revenue so minuscule it might as well not exist. It’s unclear where this revenue comes from, but it is commensurate with the amount of revenue the Treasury would collect if the government changed the way it calculates inflation. If that’s the source, it’s a fairly regressive tax change.
Both the bar graph above and the pie chart below count the over $900 billion in discretionary savings the parties agreed to during the debt limit fight toward total deficit reduction figures. The fact that the Democrats’ proposal was significantly larger is reflected in the sizes of the pie charts.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.