Simple plan, hard truth

In today’s Wonkbook, Ezra Klein writes,

Republicans, however, are caught between a rock and a hard place: They don’t like deficits, but they do like tax cuts. So they’ve emerged with a fairly creative answer: A balanced budget amendment that caps spending at 20 percent of GDP and requires a two-thirds vote for tax increases.

This, at least, has the virtue of clarity. It’s very easy to project what will happen, and what needs to be cut. It’s not exactly like the CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario, but it is close enough that it is worth taking another look at it.

It’s very hard to attack this projection as being worthless due to uncertainty. With revenue essentially capped (a 2/3rds majority being a high hurdle) and health care costs doing what they’ve been doing for decades, you get a pretty easy forecast. It also tells you exactly where the problem is. I look forward to hearing how defenders of Medicare will also find credible, plausible ways to control its costs, particularly those who don’t think currently proposed cuts are politically sustainable.

Math doesn’t lie. Make a simple plan, like capping revenue and ignoring reality, and you get a hard truth. Now maybe a balanced budget amendment will force lawmakers to be both realistic and creative. If so, the place to start is by supporting and building on the creative ideas already written into law.

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