Analysts from the Heritage Foundation, a center-right think tank, on Tuesday said the House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) counteroffer to President Barack Obama's proposal to avert the fiscal cliff was a "dud," "beyond disappointing," "bad policy," and blistered the House Republican leadership for not even wanting to fight for permanent reforms to entitlements even in private, behind-the-scenes negotiations.
They said Boehner's offer was a sign that the "Republican leadership caved on raising taxes and first steps toward fundamental entitlement reforms that are desperately needed to keep Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid going."
In his letter to Obama, Boehner said it would be counterproductive to "publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near-term," which means the Republican leadership caved on reforming entitlements without even trying.
"When President Obama put forth his first offer on the fiscal cliff, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “'You can’t be serious.' We could say the same thing to the Speaker after his counteroffer yesterday," Amy Payne, of Heritage, wrote.
Heritage’s Alison Fraser, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, and J.D. Foster, the Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy, said, " ... the Republican counteroffer, to the extent it can be interpreted from the hazy details now available, is a dud. It is utterly unacceptable. It is bad policy, bad economics.”
As Heritage noted, House Republican leadership, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), signed Boehner's letter in which the House Speaker offered to "raise taxes by $800 billion and cut spending by $1.4 trillion, with no substantive reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving U.S. spending and debt."
Fraser and Foster emphasized that the proposal was "beyond disappointing."
" ... The House Republican counteroffer appears at best to suggest incremental tweaks to these programs. Without real entitlement reform—not just spending cuts—we will never fix the underlying problem," they wrote.
Payne, of Heritage, wrote that while "this is precisely the time for laying out bold reforms, showing the nation the principles, vision and policies conservatives share to dig out of this budget mess," the House Republican leadership "pointed to a plan they said was suggested by Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of President Obama’s debt commission and formerly Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff."
"It raises taxes, but not by raising tax rates—instead, by lowering the amount or number of tax deductions or exemptions available," Payne wrote.