Government Spending

Nancy Pelosi, Richard Trumka, and Grover Norquist Band Together to Prove that Deficit Reduction is Very, Very Difficult

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Yesterday afternoon, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the two co-chairs of the president's fiscal commission, released a proposal for reducing the deficit and stabilizing the national debt. The plan, which is not the official plan but a draft put forward solely by the two chairmen, slows the long-term growth of Social Security benefits, cuts defense spending, attempts to toughen the PPACA's Medicare cost-controls, and gets rid of popular tax breaks, like the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Outgoing Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi doesn't like it one bit. She said the proposal was "simply unacceptable." Nor does AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka, who declared that Bowles and Simpson had just told working Americans to "drop dead." So is the proposal a win for the right? Not according to Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who warned that any politician signing onto the plan would be violating his group's no-new-taxes pledge. And this is just in response to a draft proposal by the two co-chairs—a draft that has not been endorsed by the president, or Republican leadership, or even by the other members of the commission.

I don't want to suggest that there aren't legitimate objections to some of the ideas in the proposal. I have a number of objections myself. But if the reaction to the co-chairs' draft is any indication, a commission that was designed to help find a bipartisan consensus has succeeded mostly in sparking bipartisan opposition. Just in case you were still wondering why deficit reduction is so hard, well, now you know.