By ThinkProgress War Room
Ed. Note: Thanks for staying tuned during our hiatus last month. We’re back and eager to cover all of the latest developments on the fiscal showdown and other important issues.***
Last week, the president put out his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, including $1.6 TRILLION in new tax revenues, $1.5 TRILLION in spending cuts that have already been enacted, $400 BILLION in additional targeted spending cuts, and additional measures to stimulate growth, including an extension of emergency unemployment benefits and new investments in infrastructure.
While Republicans have laughed at the president’s plan, said it is not “serious,” and have already fabricated new myths in order to attack it, there’s one thing they haven’t done until today: offer any real alternative.
A prime example of the GOP’s refusal to offer their own credible alternative plan was on display yesterday when Speaker Boehner (R-OH) was pressed on the details of the GOP plan by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Boehner avoided any details and refused to say which tax deductions Republicans could cap or eliminate.
Just a couple hours ago, House Republicans finally offered an alternative: some of the worst of the GOP’s recent budget ideas along with $800 BILLION in new revenues from a tax plan that lowers rates and closes loopholes. And, unlike the new revenue proposed by the president, even this revenue is not locked in. It’s to come as a part of a yet to be determined tax reform plan to be put together by Congress.
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It is similar to the plan that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on — and lost. And now Republicans are trying to put it forward as a credible alternative to the policies the president ran on — and won.
Let’s review in brief why this GOP plan does not pass muster:
- It raises the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and includes deep cuts to both it and the Medicaid program. As we’ve discovered over the past two years, these ideas are both unfair to seniors and the middle class and are also highly unpopular. Raising the Medicare eligibility age is yet another change that simply shifts costs away from the government and onto seniors. In fact, it would actually result in higher overall health care spending.
- It doesn’t generate enough potential revenue to guarantee that programs that protect the needy, benefit the middle class, and make investments in the future won’t be subject to very deep cuts.
- It could place tax deductions for the middle class, not just the wealthiest Americans, at risk. This could actually mean lower taxes for the rich and higher taxes for the middle class.
- It does not seem to address the debt ceiling, affording Republicans yet another opportunity to manufacture a crisis and crash the entire economy unless a fresh set of their demands are met over the next few months.
The Republican proposal states that it is based on a plan put forward last year by Erskine Bowles (not to be confused with a different plan put forward by both Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson). Bowles, however, denied that that was the case today and also noted that “circumstances have changed” since then.
BOTTOM LINE:Any plan that fails to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and forces seniors and the middle class to shoulder the burden of dealing with our debt is neither balanced nor credible.
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