The Bowles-Simpson Plan Has the Wrong Priorities

By SHARE

The Bowles-Simpson plan is back, and like most sequels, it's worse. The old plan, with all of its antiworker and antisenior proposals, could at least be said to include a roughly equal amount of spending cuts and revenues. The new plan endorses deeper cuts to programs that help middle class and working families while raising less revenue than the prior proposal.

The fundamental problem with Bowles-Simpson is that it's based on the assumption that we need to starve low-income families, seniors, and the middle class while giving tax breaks to the very wealthy and big corporations. While this is morally offensive, it's also bad economics. It gives money to people who don't need it and won't use it to create new jobs, and it takes money from people who do need it and will spend it and actually generate jobs in the process.

[See a collection of political cartoons on sequestration and the fiscal cliff.]

Any plan that addresses our nation's fiscal challenges should meet three goals: It should create jobs, it should increase the economic and health security of the middle class and those working their way into it, and it should make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes. Bowles-Simpson fails all three tests.

A balanced and fair approach should begin by closing corporate tax loopholes and ending special-interest tax breaks. For example, we should stop rewarding corporations that ship jobs overseas with $606 billion over 10 years. Instead of making seniors pay more for Medicare, we should use Medicare's market share to reduce prescription drug prices from the pharmaceutical companies. That could save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years.

We should also put a check on the Wall Street traders who crashed our economy by applying a transaction tax that would help slow down high-frequency securities trading. This tax of only three pennies for every $100 in transactions would raise approximately $352 billion over 10 years.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

But fair corporate taxes aren't in Bowles-Simpson, which is one of the reasons its chief cheerleader is Fix the Debt, a corporate-backed $60 million campaign to preserve corporate tax breaks while cutting things like Medicare and Social Security, the bedrock of a secure retirement for the vast majority of Americans.

The leaders of Fix the Debt—including Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles—have the wrong priorities. While the median income for seniors is about $22,000 a year, a dozen Fix the Debt CEOs have the pension assets to retire at 65 with $110,000 a month for life. It's no wonder their plan is so out of whack.

Ethan Rome

About Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now

Tags
taxes
federal budget
deficit and national debt

Other Arguments

#1
290 Pts
We Need Job Creation, Not Talk of Debt-to-GDP Ratios

No – We Need Job Creation, Not Talk of Debt-to-GDP Ratios

Dean Baker Codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research

#2
98 Pts
We Could Do Worse Than the Latest Bowles-Simpson

Yes – We Could Do Worse Than the Latest Bowles-Simpson

Garett Jones Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University

#6
-26 Pts
Bowles-Simpson a Tax Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

No – Bowles-Simpson a Tax Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Romina Boccia Research Coordinator for the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation

#7
-73 Pts
Bowles-Simpson Doesn't Address Unsustainable Healthcare Spending

No – Bowles-Simpson Doesn't Address Unsustainable Healthcare Spending

Alex Brill Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

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