Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson
I realize why debt-reduction ideas are being bandied about right now inside the Beltway, but comments like these still strike me as misguided.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Democrats and Republicans should agree to a framework for raising revenue that follows the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission in order to bypass the fiscal cliff, during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
"Say yes to Simpson-Bowles, Mr. President. I'm willing to say yes to Simpson-Bowles," Graham said. Graham said Washington needs more revenue, but that the revenue should come from closing tax loopholes and deductions for the rich, not from raising tax rates. "Mr. President, if you will say yes to Simpson-Bowles when it comes to revenue, so will I and so will most Republicans."
Graham has made comments like these before, and I remain convinced that the Republican senator just hasn't read the plan he thinks he supports.
To reiterate, there's a reason it's called the "Simpson-Bowles plan" instead of the "Simpson-Bowles commission plan" -- Republicans on the panel hated the recommendations and refused to sign on to the proposal. Why? Because among other things, it raised taxes -- even more than President Obama's debt-reduction plan -- and slashed defense spending. It also allowed all of the Bush-era tax breaks to expire on time at the end of this year.
Graham keeps say he and "most" other Republicans are "willing to say yes to Simpson-Bowles," but the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.
I often think some Republicans have decided they like Simpson-Bowles as some kind of bizarre knee-jerk reaction -- Obama hasn't embraced it, so it must be good. But the fact remains that Simpson-Bowles, a plan I personally have never cared for, is much further to the left that anything Republicans have been willing to even think about on debt reduction.
David Brooks wrote just last week, "When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don't mean the specific details of that proposal." But this isn't a serious approach to policymaking -- political players, especially sitting U.S. senators, can't say they support a specific debt-reduction plan if they actually oppose that specific debt-reduction plan.