What I find most disturbing about the Simpson-Bowles report, among many disturbing things, including a number fetish, is that our political discourse, which is usually mostly irrelevant, has become even more so. Why?
Because we're focusing on the wrong deficit.
While this deficit proposal is obviously an attempt to shift the debate rightward by proposing an arbitrary amount of GDP to be spent on government--and thereby 'limit'* the scope of government--it is having a far more insidious effect. Many progressives and liberals (here, here, here) feel the need to respond to this proposal, even though it is literally just the half-baked ideas of two guys under a time crunch.
By responding to this, we have allowed the issues of jobs and wages, not to mention the continuing saga of Big Shitpile, to recede. And those are the issues that matter, not deficits:
A CBS News poll about the 112th Congress taken after midterm elections finds that 56% of the respondents want the focus to be on jobs and the economy and only 4% on the federal budget deficit.
But conservatives and Very Serious Centrists don't want to talk about job creation or increasing wages and middle-class salaries (which would also help increase tax revenues and lower the deficit by the way). Some of them are just greedy, others just don't care--or care enough to prioritize jobs.
Ãamon de Valera once wrote, "We defeat the British Empire by ignoring it." Well, let's just ignore this report, and, instead, get back to focusing on the current jobs deficit. And Democrats should stop being worried about being tagged as 'pro-deficit': the Republicans called Democrats that, even after Clinton eliminated the budget deficit. It will never pay off politically for Democrats, so stop worrying about it, since deficit spending is only IOKIYAR.
*Of course, the notion that the amount of money spent by the government has anything to do with 'limits' is absurd: a government that only spends money on police and surveillance is 'limited' as a percentage of GDP, but is quite intrusive. On the other hand, if we were to double the amount paid out in Social Security (not saying we should, just providing an example), but repeal the Patriot Act, I would argue that is actually limiting government.
pz myers does not exist....
atheists, we're gonna cut off your heads...
THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTION
That's the thing that pisses me off most about this whole thing. The supposedly liberal NYT even has a whole interactive piece up on "How would YOU balance the budget?" Presuming that balancing the budget is the most important thing to do right now.
You've gotta hand it to the conservatives, they are experts at shaping the narative, to the point where the left don't even realize they're being played.
I don't know, balancing the budget is important. It'd be nice if that's how the "story" went when we talked about extending the Bush-era tax cuts. I do think there's cuts government could make, and I think a lot of the ideas they came up with are good places to start. However, you know it's going nowhere when some righties on the commission got up and talked about how it doesn't help business enough or asks rich people to carry too much of the load and some lefties got up and said how'd they'd NEVER EVER cut any entitlement programs. If we made the poorest of Americans pay 1% income tax: true it would contribute almost nothing to the budget, but it would shut up all the "rich" people who complain about the x million americans who don't pay taxes. Then you could say, yes, every single american pays taxes.
Also one great idea from the commission was getting rid of the interest deduction on second homes. I mean that one is a no-brainer. If you can afford to own two homes, you can afford to pay the full taxes on the second one. But I also think maybe we should just lose the interest tax deducation period. Most people who are middle class don't use it anyways, as the standard deduction is generally more. So it's just helping rich people who bought too much house.