Green Room

Hm: Should Republicans put forth Simpson-Bowles?

posted at 4:19 pm on November 30, 2012 by

Guy and I talked about this the other night, and I kinda like the idea, when compared to our other, dismal options at the moment. Hear him out.

Simpson-Bowles, for all its faults, was conducted in an open and transparent manner and brought disparate political players into a room to forge a serious compromise. It overhauls and streamlines our byzantine tax code, takes some important first steps on entitlements, and reduces and caps federal spending. On substance, I’d wager that it would be considerably better than anything Obama and Boehner might produce after weeks of behind-closed-doors acrimony with the proverbial gun to their heads. Politically, it paints Democrats into a tough corner. Republicans could make a grand show of reluctantly supporting Simpson-Bowles for the betterment of the country. Ideally, the press conference would be led by Paul Ryan, who might explain why he voted against the plan as a commissioner, but is now willing to set aside some of his strong ideological preferences to move the nation forward. They would remind viewers that the proposal they’re now backing only exists because President Obama specifically and publicly asked for it. Plus, more Democrats than Republicans voted for it, including Harry Reid’s top lieutenant in the Senate. Put simply, Simpson-Bowles represents the very embodiment of bipartisan collaboration and problem solving — precisely the sort of thing “moderates,” the media, and the public are always demanding. It would be exceedingly difficult for Democrats to paint the plan as radical or draconian in light of the commission’s origins and participants. The GOP’s “party of no” problem would also be hugely diminished; after all, they would have just signed on to the president’s commission, with the previously recalcitrant Paul Ryan magnanimously leading the way. It would be fascinating to watch the president and his allies try to denounce and reject the very proposal he called for.

There are things I don’t like about Simpson-Bowles, but here’s the thing. Simpson-Bowles was bad compared to the Ryan plan, which we are not passing in the near future. But it is far more responsible than what Obama’s offering at the moment, which is a total joke, and I can’t imagine you’ll get anything better for Republicans and conservatives even if Boehner and Obama did hammer out some grand bargain in the next couple weeks. The Left hates it, but Obama and Democrats have paid so much lip service to Simpson and Bowles being responsible and sober, they’d have trouble sidestepping this offer. The media would have trouble portraying it as unreasonable or Republicans as obstructionist (though I’m sure they’d try!). Cue the brutal Democratic infighting, which leads to what exactly? Obama repudiating his own commission’s plan in favor of some half-formed farce he came up with behind closed doors?

If it’s true that “Republicans are so screwed,” and liberals like Howard Dean think going over the cliff is the best deal for progressives, this is worth a thought or two. And, politics aside, I think it actually would be better for the country than going over the cliff or doing a horrible deal with Obama. All right, get to fighting in comments!

Update: There’s a big blog post on the main blog now, if y’all want to go comment there.

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

That’s actually a great idea. Why aren’t we doing this?

changer1701 on November 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Frankly, I like it. It’s not the best solution in the world, but it’s a far sight better than anything the politicians have come up with so far. And the best part about it is that it wasn’t crafted entirely by politicians… some of them were, but the key players, Simpson and Bowles were not… so it really wasn’t crafted with the political ramifications for anyone’s re-election in mind.

gravityman on November 30, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Something like this is definitely better than the “remove the Debt ceiling forever and we’ll talk about entitlement reform after my golf trip” :

-

The plan called for a 3-to-1 ratio of real spending reductions to tax increases. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP was capped at 21 percent, substantially lower than the Obama average.

- The spending cuts impacted multiple sectors of government, targeting everything from discretionary spending, to defense, to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Some modest reforms were suggested for these entitlement programs.

- The plan raised taxes by limiting and eliminating many popular deductions, some of which disproportionately favor the wealthy. Some of these massively hiked revenues were offset by a major, pro-growth simplification of the tax code. The proposal established three relatively low marginal income tax brackets (12/22/28 percent). It also repealed the Alternative Minimum Tax and called for lowering the corporate tax.

- Overall, Simpson Bowles projected $4 Trillion in deficit reduction over a ten year budget window

Clark1 on November 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM

What the heck. I’ll join in. It’s a horrible idea. But that is still worlds better than the completely disastrous ideas we’ve heard so far.

I alternate between two horrible ideas.

1) We should just go over the fiscal cliff, because it’s frankly better for the GOP and the country than any proposal we’re likely to get from the Democrats at this point.

2) We should just cave and give Obama everything he wants and let him own it. Lots of people who get paid a lot of money to express their opinions have done just that. The problem is that’s just as big a noose as the first. If we give in on demands a), b), and c) from the White House, and then it doesn’t solve anything (which it won’t), then the White House just demands d), e), and f). We’ve already established the precedent of giving them what they want, so do we do it again, or once again take the blame for everything being f**ked up and allow ourselves to be called “obstructionists”? Either way, we’re screwed.

Given those two options, or the worst, most likely option, 3) a do-nothing 11-th hour compromise that looks a lot originally than it turns out to be, I’ll take door number 4), Simpson-Bowles.

Chris of Rights on November 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM

This is not a bad idea and it was a wonder why Romney didn’t embrace it in the general election (though Ryan voted against it). I think he could have still embraced Simpson Bowles and insist that Obamacare be repealed and Ryan’s Medicare reforms (or his own Medicare proposal) be included.

This is still up for the taking and it would be interesting the optics, given that this was Obama’s own commission and it garnered bipartisan support, including votes from Senate Democrats. It would be an interesting move. The worst about Simpson Bowles is the tax increases and Obamacare being kept, but those are all but a given now because of the election.

It’s all a media game now, because Obama thinks he can get away with blaming the GOP no matter what, but if they embrace Simpson Bowles, then the GOP at least have something to say in the aftermath of going over the cliff.

milemarker2020 on November 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Agreed… It actually is quite a smart strategic move on the part of the Rs and the best play they have left. Even Obama’s media cronies know that the initial offer was not serious. Putting Ryan out front also probably helps Ryan with any future 2016 ambitions he might have.

Not sure why Simpson and Bowles wasn’t used as a R tactic during the debt ceiling debate last year.

Illinidiva on November 30, 2012 at 4:58 PM

I’ve thought that it was a reasonable plan for awhile now. Let’s do it. Listen. ‘Let it burn’ might be emotionally satisfying, but some of us have kids who have to grow up in this country. Offer it and accept nothing less. If they say no, go over the cliff and no one can say we didn’t offer a reasonable plan. I’m willing to bet even the press would get behind it. We’ve got a couple weeks of hardball we can still play yet before we take this option.

The best part is: Simpson-Bowles is a known buzz word that sounds much better than “Tax the Rich” “Kill the Old”. We can say it over and over again. Simpson-Bowles. Bipartisan. Simpson-Bowles. Obama’s own commission. Simpson-Bowles. Compromise.

xuyee on November 30, 2012 at 5:10 PM

“We”(in quotation marks because I’ve been saying this forever) should have just went along with it the whole damn time… it was foolish not to get behind it.

ninjapirate on November 30, 2012 at 5:13 PM

They should have done it last year. If congressional Republicans had said “we accept the Obama Plan 100%” and kept pushing Simpson-Bowles exactly as written without any further concessions it would have put Obama and the Dems in an impossible situation and avoided the notion that the Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. It would also have been the best chance at getting real reform with Dems in power. But it’s probably too late now.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 5:13 PM

People need to realize that Paul Ryan was wrong… and he hurt us by derailing us.

ninjapirate on November 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM

It’s not a bad idea, but it doesn’t pass the Grover Norquist purity test so it probably wouldn’t get passed in the House unless a significant number of Dems vote for it.

Mark1971 on November 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

This should be dropped on the front page so it gets wider play. The key is to get lots of conservatives writing and pressuring Boehner to go with this tactic because he won’t think of it on his own.

Illinidiva on November 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

They should have done it last year. If congressional Republicans had said “we accept the Obama Plan 100%” and kept pushing Simpson-Bowles exactly as written without any further concessions it would have put Obama and the Dems in an impossible situation and avoided the notion that the Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. It would also have been the best chance at getting real reform with Dems in power. But it’s probably too late now.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Exactly… I was saying this at the time too.

The GOP took a very bad gamble by not getting behind Simpson-Boyles… they should have realized they had no choice but Simpson-Boyles when the bush tax cuts were set to expire just right after the election.

Can someone explain why they didn’t do so? Who were the power players who spiked getting behind Simpon-Boyles? I only know of Ryan who was on the commission who voted against it… but it could have been picked up later.

ninjapirate on November 30, 2012 at 5:17 PM

This should be dropped on the front page so it gets wider play. The key is to get lots of conservatives writing and pressuring Boehner to go with this tactic because he won’t think of it on his own.

Illinidiva on November 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM |

Your wish is already being granted. Coming up tonight. Wanted to let you chew on it in Greenroom first until I could get my post done.

Mary Katharine Ham on November 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Let’s face it, we’re stuck with a House GOP leadership that is too timid and uncreative and a rank and file that is too ideologically rigid to make anything like this happen.

Mark1971 on November 30, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I have been saying this for weeks. Add in an AMT patch and a reduction in the defense sequester and getting a GOP majority in the house should be possible.

KW64 on November 30, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Can someone explain why they didn’t do so? Who were the power players who spiked getting behind Simpon-Boyles? I only know of Ryan who was on the commission who voted against it… but it could have been picked up later.

ninjapirate on November 30, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Simple: it raised taxes and so most Republicans wouldn’t get on board because they rigidly hold to their stance of no higher taxes and are too short sighted to see how to win the long game.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 5:26 PM

I don’t fault Ryan for his initial stance on Simpson Bowles. The Rs had the wind at their back after the 2010 elections and it was clear that Ryan was trying to get Obama to the right of Simpson Bowles on Medicare reform. He actually expected Obama to propose a compromise around Simpson Bowles at the Georgetown speech according to Woodward and was shocked by Obama’s tone. Opening with Simpson Bowles would mean that the eventual deal would be to the left of Simpson Bowles and not include entitlement reform. However, going with it now as final gambit makes sense. It should be the Rs final offer.. no more concessions. But it will have to be Ryan who makes the piblic proposal and he’s going to have to be the one that sells it to the Republicans.. which is a good test for someone who wants to be taken seriously as a potential President.

Illinidiva on November 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

KW64, S-B actually abolishes the AMT altogether.

Guy Benson on November 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

It is funny, I just wrote a blog post on this today.

Bowles Simpson sucks…but sucks far less than the alternatives.

neoavatara on November 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM

That’s actually a great idea. Why aren’t we doing this?

changer1701 on November 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Because the “leaders” in our party consists of people like Boehner, McConnell and Romney.

Norwegian on November 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Lol. Like the 10 for 1 GOP obstructionists would approve of a 2 for 1 plan.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Lol. Like the 10 for 1 GOP obstructionists would approve of a 2 for 1 plan.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 5:34 PM

The Democrat obstructionists won’t tolerate that either.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Good idea.

The part about this, despite its faults, is it will give the GOP cover if Obama takes us over the cliff.

The Republicans can say look we pushed for Simpson-Bowles, which was bipartisan, even handed, and from the commission that was set up by Obama in the first place! Basically Obama is so nuts that he is dissing his own plan.

William Eaton on November 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

When Simpson-Bowles was rejected it was because the GOP had some wind under its sails, and the prospect of defeating Pres Obama’s reelection was looking pretty good.

Now we are in a situation of needing to salvage what we can, and not get screwed too badly. Putting up SB as a counter offer would be perfect for the GOP.

thuljunior on November 30, 2012 at 5:40 PM

too late for that. the gop should have gone along with it the last time it was offered.

the terms have changed since then, as i’m sure you’ll understand.

sesquipedalian on November 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM

too late for that. the gop should have gone along with it the last time it was offered.

the terms have changed since then, as i’m sure you’ll understand.

sesquipedalian on November 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM

Never too late. The terms have not changed. Most Americans want a even handed bipartisan approach. Obama was not really for Simpson-Bowles either, but it will make him very uncomfortable if faced with it again, plus democrats in somewhat conservative districts will support it for fear of not looking balanced.

Remember Obama is not on the ticket in 2014…I’m sure you will understand.

William Eaton on November 30, 2012 at 5:48 PM

too late for that. the gop should have gone along with it the last time it was offered.

When was it “offered”? It wasn’t. Obama shelved it & Congressional Democrats (still in charge) buried it.

Guy Benson on November 30, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Someone refresh my memory… does SB include a VAT?

TitularHead on November 30, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Because the “leaders” in our party consists of people like Boehner, McConnell and Romney.

Norwegian on November 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Huh?!!! Since when is Romney a “leader” of the party? The last time I heard he was a presidential candidate. Why that knee jerk reaction to throw the guy under the bus for all the ills in the world and the party simply because he didn’t won the election or wasn’t the second coming of Ron Paul?

ptcamn on November 30, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Someone refresh my memory… does SB include a VAT?

TitularHead on November 30, 2012 at 5:49 PM

They were considering everything at the time, but they didn’t include any single solution. I believe it was not added to the final proposal, though it was suggested as a future addition to tax reform.

ptcamn on November 30, 2012 at 5:53 PM

TitularHead, no VAT in S-B.

Guy Benson on November 30, 2012 at 5:55 PM

When was it “offered”? It wasn’t. Obama shelved it & Congressional Democrats (still in charge) buried it.

Guy Benson on November 30, 2012 at 5:48 PM

offered by destiny. the gop should have embraced simpson-bowles, which would have made it much more difficult for obama to ignore it. it was an error and now the gop is paying the price.

sesquipedalian on November 30, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Huh?!!! Since when is Romney a “leader” of the party?

ptcamn on November 30, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Yeah, it’s not like he was nominated to lead the party into the definining election of our lifetime less than month ago or anything /sarc

Of course, if the GOP does try to advance the Simpson/Bowles approach, Romney and Ryan’s past statements and actions (Romney attcked Simpson/Bowles in the debates, Ryan voted against the proposal itself) will be used by the MSM to discredit this strategy.

Norwegian on November 30, 2012 at 5:59 PM

The Democrat obstructionists won’t tolerate that either.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Like who? Even Pelosi approved of it later on. The rest will fall in line.

On the other hand, Grover Norcapone’s subjects in congress are still bound by his protection racket (with few recent exceptions) and his position on S-B is pretty clear.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 5:59 PM

lester: Great! I’m eager to see Nancy Pelosi whipping votes for tax reform, lower marginal rates, entitlement cuts and a federal spending cap.

(There’s a reason why she never brought it up for a vote and forcefully denounced it when it was first introduced…see Krugman, Paul).

Guy Benson on November 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM

They were considering everything at the time, but they didn’t include any single solution. I believe it was not added to the final proposal, though it was suggested as a future addition to tax reform.

ptcamn on November 30, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Thanks. I hope we never let that camel’s nose in the tent.

TitularHead on November 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM

There are things I don’t like about S-B. But it is a bajillion times better then the excrement sandwich proffered by President Balance….(like a psychotic manic depressive)

Plus politically speaking it is optically good…Mr. President…we agree with you that the solution to our budget woes…therefor we have taken the recommendations from your own Simpson Bowles Presidential Commitee and put it into The Simpson-Bowles Financial Cliff Resolition Act of 2012. We ask that you request the Senate leader Reid pass this piece of legislation and you sign this balanced legislation that was crafted by your own bi-partisan Presidential commission.

Sadly it seems optics are all that matter in these times and this would be that…

abnormal_1 on November 30, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Like who? Even Pelosi approved of it later on. The rest will fall in line.

On the other hand, Grover Norcapone’s subjects in congress are still bound by his protection racket (with few recent exceptions) and his position on S-B is pretty clear.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 5:59 PM

If the Dems approved of it why didn’t they propose it? Why haven’t they proposed anything like it? Why did Obama completely ignore it? The only thing the Dems have ever offered is a bunch of tax hikes upfront in exchange for promises for cuts years in the future.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 6:06 PM

If the Dems approved of it why didn’t they propose it? Why haven’t they proposed anything like it? Why did Obama completely ignore it? The only thing the Dems have ever offered is a bunch of tax hikes upfront in exchange for promises for cuts years in the future.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 6:06 PM

He’s in a better position now than he was when S-B came up first. Doesn’t make sense to use that as a starting point.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

He’s in a better position now than he was when S-B came up first. Doesn’t make sense to use that as a starting point.

It’s not a starting point. It’s a first, final, and only offer.

You point out that you’re already meeting him more than halfway. That you’re adopting his bipartisan commission’s (make sure you emphasize those three words…over and over…and over and over) recommendations.

Then you say, “This is it. Our offer is on the table. Unless you have something that’s better for everyone, we’re done. We’ve bent over backwards for you. We’ve gone much farther than we were ever considering. This is the best deal you’re going to get. Mr. Majority Leader, Mr. President, stop being obstructionists and get this done.”

Chris of Rights on November 30, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I think it is a good idea. It would certainly change the R defensive position into an offensive position which they sorely need to do.

CoffeeLover on November 30, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I’ll expand on this in my post when MKH puts this on the front page, but it is clear Obama was never going to embrace SB. He could have done so in 2011 when he was on the roes and gotten a huge PR coup.

Illinidiva on November 30, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Yup, get behind it and say Simpson-Bowles 24/7 along with Obama Sequestration and Obama Recession. :-)

Punchenko on November 30, 2012 at 6:46 PM

He’s in a better position now than he was when S-B came up first. Doesn’t make sense to use that as a starting point.

lester on November 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

S-B was announced two years ago. If it was acceptable to Obama and the Dems they would have passed it or something like it a long time ago but they have steadfastly refused to entertain anything that cuts spending anywhere near the degree of Simpson-Bowles.

HidetheDecline on November 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Yes they should, I’ve been saying this since we failed to beat Obama – get behind Simpson-Bowles and dare Obama to block the proposals put forth by his own bipartisan commission. It has tax reform, it has tax hikes, it has spending reform, and it even takes Obamacare into account so there is zero reason for Obama to come out against it.

He won’t support it because he doesn’t think deficits are a problem and rather wait for the economy to magically get better on its own to increase fund all the hand outs he is buying votes with.

If/when Obama and the Democrats resist Simpson-Bowels, then the GOP can adopt the let it burn approach, but at least they first got behind a well known, well publicized bi-partisan plan.

Daemonocracy on November 30, 2012 at 6:48 PM

He won’t support it because he doesn’t think deficits are a problem and rather wait for the economy to magically get better on its own to increase fund all the hand outs he is buying votes with.

Daemonocracy on November 30, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Simpson Bowles was a very reasonable proposal except for the dangerous addition of a brand spanking new category of VAT tax. Fair tax still my personal preference but oh well not going to happen, and Thelma and Louise strategy is suicidal, so yeah, go for it GOP. And for entertainment purposes I would love to see Barack “I am Santa Claus” Obama try to demonize Bowles.

Buy Danish on November 30, 2012 at 7:18 PM

the terms have changed since then, as i’m sure you’ll understand.

sesquipedalian on November 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM

What’s changed exactly? Obama still has the WH, Reid the Senate and us the gavel. You just don’t like it because it boxes in your hero.

The Count on November 30, 2012 at 7:22 PM

I was just listening to Guy Benson discuss this with Hugh Hewitt.

I have to say this is the best idea I’ve heard yet… I am not 100% against tax increases – especially if there are significant, real budget cuts that go along with them. Based on the bullet-item summaries of Simpson Bowles, the plan would accomplish that.

The idea of a VAT tax really doesn’t thrill me, but I think the
R’s are going to be blamed if we go over the cliff and this sounds like a great way to avoid that.

Now off to read up more on the specific proposals of Simpson Bowles…

azblondie on November 30, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 2