Here’s the reality that changed: President Obama can no longer accuse House Republicans of failing to present a plan for reducing the deficit. On Monday afternoon, Speaker John Boehner did just that, in a letter to the president laying out the basic parameters of what his caucus would be willing to accept—pushing up the retirement age for Medicare, reducing the growth of Social Security benefits, and closing tax loopholes to raise a modest amount of revenue.
Here’s the reality that didn’t change: Obama has insisted that any deal meet several conditions—among them, higher income tax rates on the wealthy, an end to the debt ceiling drama, and stimulus for the fragile recovery. Republicans have said no way. And with this proposal, Boehner and the Republicans are still saying … no way. The new proposal merely commits to paper a few ideas that Republicans have been floating for the last few weeks. It does so with the usual level of specificity—which is to say, very little specificity at all.
Frankly, as the second paragraph implies, the first sentence is too generous. Since none of the tax loopholes to be eliminated and little of the spending to be cut is actually specified, it really shouldn’t be dignified with the name “plan” at all. It’s easy to come up with a “plan” that reduces the deficit if you just invent figures without specifying how you’d reach them.
I don’t know why we can’t all agree with the obvious plan — just balance the budget by eliminating White House Christmas trees that Michelle Obama won’t call Christmas trees except when she does. I estimate this to create eleventy billion google dollars of savings. Problem solved! Now we can get to the real deficit-reducing tool, upper-class tax cuts.