I believe that everyone in public office, and any serious opinion
writer, has some obligation to move beyond the talking points and offer
some concrete proposal for the good of the country. Here is my proposal
for the grand bargain that will address revenue, entitlements
and defense spending based on my experience working for and with
Democratic leaders and being involved in similar deals. I do not
expect this note to generate many comments because I am not doing the
ritual partisan talking points that both sides dispense, but I would
urge any who do comment to write what YOU would offer that YOU don't
like, as I am doing here by suggesting a few things that I do not like.
1. Revenue would be raised in my proposal by creating a minimum tax of perhaps 30 percent and a slight increase in the tax rate for those making above $500,000.
There would be no benefit cuts to recipients of Medicare or Social Security and no changes to cost-of-living adjustments which would be disguised benefit cuts. The one-year increase in the eligibility age would only occur after 10 years when hopefully quality of medical care, life expectancy and desire to keep working all rise from current levels.
This concession is the hardest one for me and other progressives to swallow, and should only happen when other progressive notions are also included. Specifically, there should be permanent extended jobless benefits beyond current levels, which have been cut back, and there should be some version of the new short-term job program President Obama has proposed.
3. Defense spending should make a fair contribution, with emphasis on cutting some of the large and costly procurement projects that are often plagued by cost overruns, and not cutting veterans’ benefits or active-duty personnel support.
Note that the Simpson-Bowles commission supported short-term spending for job creation as being consistent with medium- and long-term and fiscally honest deficit reduction.
The approach I suggest here would include at least some action that every one of us would rather not agree to. Any deficit proposal that does not include something that each of us would strongly dislike is nothing more than a fiscal fraud. By the nature of compromise in a divided government all political players must accept something in the deal that they would rather not.
My suggestions are fair, balanced, protect the poor and middle class and would stimulate the economy while honestly lowering the deficit.
I am avoiding the ritual political spin in this commentary. What are you willing to give up, to achieve the bipartisan deal that the nation urgently needs?