The Conversation

Ezra Klein's Sequester Omission

So Ezra Klein has a new piece outlining Bowles-Simpson 2.0 which is a plan to replace the $1.2T sequester with $2.4 T in cuts and tax reform. One of Ezra's big takeaways is "Simpson and Bowles have revised the tax ask way, way down." He even has a graph to illustrate the difference between Simpson-Bowles 1.0 and 2.0:

Here is Klein's explanation of why the "tax ask" has dropped:

Simpson and Bowles began with Obama and Boehner’s final offers from the fiscal cliff deal. That helps explain why their tax ask has fallen so far: Obama’s final tax ask was far lower than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles plan, while Boehner’s tilt towards spending cuts was far greater than what was in the original Simpson-Bowles.

That's true as far as it goes except that Klein omits something significant which happened in between the Simpson-Bowles 1.0 plan (which Obama abandoned in Dec. 2010) and the fiscal cliff deal in December 2012: Obama proposed his own framework in April 2011. And as I've been harping on repeatedly, his plan identified a 3:1 ratio of cuts to revenues as "balanced."

The midpoint in this debate wasn't shifted by Simpson and Bowles or by intransigent Republicans, it was shifted by Obama. Shouldn't Klein have mentioned that? And while he's at it, how about noting that S-B 2.0 gets us to the 3:1 ratio Obama proposed as a balanced approach? I don't know where the exact center of this deal should be but I don't think it's realistic to claim the center is somewhere to Obama's left.

Update: Derek Thompson at the Atlantic produces the same chart. He also professes to be shocked by the shift to a 3:1 ratio of cuts to revenues.

So basically the entire left is shocked, shocked that anyone could possibly consider a 3:1 ratio balanced. All of them conspicuously fail to mention that Obama used a 3:1 ratio to define a "balanced" approach. Is there no one on the left who will admit this is exactly what Obama ordered?


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