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Hullabaloo


Sunday, February 10, 2013

 
What exactly was in the president's fiscal cliff proposal again?

by digby

The White House keeps saying that the president's final offer in the fiscal cliff deal is still on the table and I thought it might be a good idea to take a closer look at exactly what that was.  It included the expiration of the Bush tax cuts that were allowed to take place.

And then there was this:
On the spending side of the ledger, Obama offered $800 billion in cuts, plus $130 billion in savings from adopting a new, less generous mechanism for adjusting Social Security benefits for inflation, the so-called "chained consumer price index" (CPI). To soften the blow to liberal Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has warned against any roll-back of benefits, the White House proposed unspecified "tweaks" that will protect "the poorest social security recipients," the source said. Obama gets another $290 billion in interest payment savings.

The president's proposed savings include $400 billion in health outlays, $200 billion in mandatory spending in other areas, and $200 billion in discretionary cuts — including $100 from the Pentagon. As described, it does not include a Republican push to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67
That's where he's starting from. The Republicans are starting from the sequester, which takes a meat-ax to discretionary and defense spending. One assumes that the "compromise" will come somewhere in between which means more cuts than Obama was willing to make in that proposal, but fewer than the GOP is pretending to demand, no?

Interesting that the hike in the Medicare age is widely considered to be a Republican proposal. Perhaps there's the making of a deal there --- they'll insist that it be thrown into the mix. After all, it's not as if the Democrats will really balk. They'll make the argument that Obamacare will pick up the slack so it's all good and I'd guess that the pressure would be intense (as always) to avert the apocalypse. The "tweaks" will be inadequate, (top a benefit that is already terribly inadequate) but everyone will pretend that they'll do the trick. After all, it will be a while before the elders have to switch to catfood and everyone will have moved on by then.

Krugman was on Fareed Zakaria's show this morning and said he didn't think the president was looking for his Grand Bargain anymore. I hope he's right. But if that's the case, why in the world does he insist on putting Social Security on the table? It doesn't add to the deficit and will have no impact on the current economy. The only reason I can see for him to keep doing this is because he wants to fulfill his policy agenda announced at the start of his first term:

I asked the president-elect, "At the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency some kind of grand bargain? That you have tax reform, healthcare reform, entitlement reform including Social Security and Medicare, where everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good?"

"Yes," Obama said.

It isn't because the Republicans are demanding it ...

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