• There have been other deficit reducing proposals, you know.

    If you’ve been paying any attention for the last few days, you would imagine that Rep. Ryan’s plan is the first real idea for reducing the deficit. It’s not. And while I understand many people’s desire for an alternative plan, just because they don’t get the attention that Rep. Ryan’s does, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Even Andrew Sullivan, whom I admire greatly, seems to be falling into the trap of forgetting that other proposals have been put forth.

    And, yes, none of those plans would pass unscathed and be enacted. But as Speaker Boehner recently pointed out, the Republican party currently controls one half of one third of the government, and Rep. Ryan’s plan has no chance of passing either.

    For instance, here’s the Kaiser Family Foundation comparison of various plans to reform Medicare to reduce the deficit.  There are six, other than Rep. Ryan’s. Moreover, there is the PPACA, which actually passed into law, and is scored by the CBO to reduce the deficit. Even if you doubt that, it reduced Medicare spending. I know this because those that oppose it have run campaigns on the “cuts to Medicare” it makes.

    Even forgetting that, there are lots of other ideas to reduce the deficit. Here are a few: Commit to a real phasedown in Iraq and Afghanistan. Allow the 2001/2003 tax cuts on the wealthy to expire. Consider re-instating some taxes on the wealthiest estates. Consider some of Austin’s competitive bidding strategies for health care financing reform. Incentivize private companies to help ferret out Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Seriously empower MEDPAC to recommend cuts to Medicare spending. Allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. Engage in targeted reductions in discretionary spending, including subsidies to numerous industries and interest groups.  Cut Pentagon spending according to recommendations from the defense department.

    I’m not an ecomonist.  I can’t score that. But I bet it would put a serious dent in the deficit, and it wouldn’t do it mostly through cuts to safety net-programs. It also wouldn’t cut taxes in the name of deficit reduction (which doesn’t make sense to me).

    I’m also not a politician. So I’m not officially endorsing this as a proposal. I’m just trying to illustrate that there are alternative ideas. I agree with Andrew that I wish those in power would begin to advocate for them. But let’s not pretend that no one has been talking about deficit reduction plans before this week.


    • Just like in the UK, where the conservative government has come into power vowing to deal with the UK deficit and has said there is NO alternative to dealing with the deficit and no alternative to cutting most government departments by 20%. This is just a way to cut off debate.

      The truth is, the UK deficit is close to a 300 year low and has only risen recently as a result of the massive amount of borrowing that had to be undertaken to finance the bank bailouts and the loss of revenue due to the recent slowdown.

      UK conservatives deserve some credit for at least raising some taxes, but then they chose the most regressive tax of all and raised the national VAT from 17.5% to 20%. Again the line was, there is no alternative.

      As you rightly point out, there are always alternatives.

    • What about closing some of our overseas bases, freezing Pentagon spending, means testing Social Security levels*, capping the home interest deduction, and clawing back some of what the Banksters took from us?

      * Senator McCain gets $2K a month. Does he and his cohort merit this much on top of their many other sources of govt income?