The deal allowing tax rates to rise on the wealthy falls far short of what’s needed to truly tackle the national debt, the authors of a prominent deficit-reduction plan said Sunday.
Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson (Wyo.) and Democrat Erskine Bowles, who crafted the Bowles-Simpson plan, said the tax package is only a small part of what’s needed.
He said tackling the deficit will still require significant spending cuts, especially to entitlement programs. Simpson lambasted Senate leaders for not working together, and he noted that increases in lifespan are rapidly straining Medicare and Social Security.
“What the hell? Who’s kidding who?” Simpson said.
Bowles, too, said the "fiscal cliff" deal was a missed opportunity. And although spending cuts form the bulk of the next step, he disagreed with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and said some further revenues are still necessary.
President Obama has noted that he offered Republicans significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of earlier debt packages, but Republicans rejected calls to let any tax rates rise until last week, when across-the-board hikes were set to take effect.
The spending cuts enacted in the Budget Control Act and last week’s tax agreement solved about half the problems, Bowles said. He said Congress needs to cut about $1.6 trillion more in spending and raise about $600 billion more in revenues by closing loopholes.
“Yes, the president has taken some steps forward on the entitlement programs, but has he done enough? Absolutely not,” Bowles said. “And has the speaker shown the flexibility he needs to show in order for us to broaden the base and simplify the code and reform our tax structure — or to be specific about which forms of the entitlement he would actually reduce? No.”