Obama vs. Pelosi
The Fourth Online-Learning Revolution

Felix Salmon Has the Number of Bowles-Simpson

What did Obama expect when he took a serial budget arsonist and put a fire chief's hat on his head?

It's not even that a single Republican legislator has signed on to this thing.

Felix Salmon:

The deficit commission’s plan: [D]epressing on both the big-picture and the little-picture level.... [G]rowth in health-care costs automagically is brought down to GDP + 1% “by establishing a process to regularly evaluate cost growth, and take additional steps as needed if projected savings do not materialize”. But healthcare inflation is a gruesomely difficult nut to crack, and if the CBO simply assumed that it could be solved so easily in 2020, its projections would look much rosier too. Beyond that, the biggest savings proposed by the commission are in various parts of the federal payroll. Nothing else remotely moves the needle: the next biggest saving, beyond the punt of the “cut-and-invest committee”, comes from a reduction in the rate of growth of foreign aid.... Meanwhile, some of the small savings have to be seen to be believed. The deficit commission, charged with coming up with a bold plan to bring the nation’s finances into order, really does propose:

  • Increasing the amount of time spent on instant messenger, to reduce travel costs;
  • “Reduce copying use by putting the default option on copiers to double-sided”;
  • Merging the Commerce Department with the Small Business Administration; *Charging a fee to Smithsonian visitors.
  • Etc....

[B]On the other hand, bold ideas in terms of new taxes — carbon taxes, wealth taxes, Tobin taxes, consumption taxes, you name it — are nowhere to be seen.... [A] large dash of wishful thinking, a bunch of tax cuts (!), and even a cap on the amount of tax revenues that the government can bring in. How that’s meant to help reduce the deficit I have no idea.