Details are beginning to leak from the Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission’s, and as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s just a ruse to ram through trillions in new taxes after the election.
In a story published today in the Wall Street Journal’s Online Edition, some of the items still on the table in advance of the commission’s December 1, 2010 deadline are emerging:
Sacrosanct tax breaks, including deductions on mortgage interest, remain on the table just weeks before the deficit commission issues recommendations on policies to pare back with the aim of balancing the budget by 2015.
The tax benefits are hugely popular with the public but they have drawn the panel's focus, in part because the White House has said these and other breaks cost the government about $1 trillion a year.
At stake, in addition to the mortgage-interest deductions, are child tax credits and the ability of employees to pay their portion of their health-insurance tab with pretax dollars. Commission officials are expected to look at preserving these breaks but at a lower level, according to people familiar with the matter.
The officials are also looking at potential cuts to defense spending and a freeze on domestic discretionary spending. It is unclear if the 18-member panel will be able to reach an agreement on any of the items by a Dec. 1 deadline.
See anything missing there, sports fans?
I do—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are apparently off the table. You would think that such astute observers would have caught wind of the fires sweeping across Greece, France and other “social democracies” in Western Europe. Those countries are now being forced to curtail their entitlement programs after decades of largesse. In France, people took to the streets last week and nearly shut down the entire French economy over a measure before the Senate to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. In Greece, the protests turned deadly violent as that country sought to pass a series of “austerity measures” (read: entitlement program restraints) and keep the country from going bankrupt.
Until Congress and the White House start acting like grownups and start placing real limits on the growth of entitlements through means testing, graduated increases in minimum ages and stricter rules on eligibility, these programs will continue to grow geometrically. And without the political will to cut spending, tax proposals like this become the lesser of two political evils.
This is just the first one, and it’s a costly one at that.
Americans for Tax Reform tallies up the tax hikes the Obama Commission has in store for us. The total, a staggering $2.4 trillion increase. The commission, and the White House, will complain that there’s no way to balance the budget without increasing taxes.
It’s a bald faced lie.
Balancing the budget means cutting spending, and not just going after defense and domestic discretionary spending, the two favorite targets of big government progressives. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the new Healthcare act are going to have to be reined in.
Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future is the most sensible, most fiscally sound and most reasonable policy agenda for financial solvency. We don’t need to raise taxes. We just need someone to start behaving like grownups.