Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Potential "Gang of Six" Senate "Compromise" Debt Ceiling Plan Seems Acceptable on Its Face. But Sue Me For Being Plenty Suspicious...
The "Gang of Six" ("GO6"), BTW, is an ever-changing group of so-called "moderate" and/or "pragmatic" Senators in both parties (now actually with 7 members) who in the past have purported "to put partisan divides aside" to come up with compromises that other Senators have sometimes been able to sign off on. (Yes, I'm ignoring today's House GOP passage of "Cut, Cap & Balance" since that thing's dead in the Senate).
Today, this "Gang of Six" announced a plan on the debt ceiling issue that appears to have some general popularity in the Senate at large and with Obama himself.
On its face, the GO6 plan seems perfectly acceptable to me as a first step in serious debt and deficit reduction. To wit:
-The net deficit reduction and cuts to the national debt over 10 years would reportedly be $3.7 trillion. A somewhat legitimate starting point, although a bit concerning is that much of those cuts are not specific but rather would be farmed out to Congressional committees to "come up with" in the future.
-$500 billion in more-specific immediate budget cuts.
-The plan reportedly contemplates a coupling of comprehensive elimination of tax deductions (a.k.a. "loopholes") with across-the-board tax rate cuts on all tax brackets, including reducing the top tax bracket of the so-called "millionaires and billionaires" from 35% to 29%.
-The GO6 plan claims that the result of those tax cuts and tax deduction eliminations would be a $1.5 trillion net tax decrease.
-Presumably the debt ceiling would be increased as a trade off for these various measures.
SO, that's it, as best as I can cobble together so far. But Obama saying today he's in favor of this plan gives me plenty of reason to pause, because I've yet to see that individual in nearly 3 years ever sign off on much of any legislation that wasn't completely to his political advantage (or, at the very least, just a politically motivated surrender when left with no other choice -- see the extension of the "Bush" tax rates at the end of 2010).
Also, the leftist 20 percenter blogosphere seems very silent on this plan tonight, which is also very odd. So I'm very suspicious.
My suspicions lie in three areas. First, there's probably something here that doesn't meet the eye. Something the GO6 isn't disclosing. Something highly advantageous to the leftist 20 percenters that is not being reported.
Second, this GO6 plan may be a total non-starter in the much more right-wing House. If the plan is what it appears to be, it seems inherently reasonable. Perhaps Obama is banking on the House killing it, giving him the high ground to say that the GOP is blocking a reasonable plan. And if that happens, he'd actually be right (if the plan is what it seems), although I'd also say in that instance that he's only supporting it because he knew the House would not.
Third, there's the possibility that Obama is finally making what so many predicted following the 2010 election outcome: A bona fide move towards the center, like Bill Clinton did after 1994, calculated to boost his re-election possibilities.
But I really don't care a whole lot about these various political considerations apart from just having fun with political analysis. As an Independent, my bottom line is: Is the measure/plan reasonable and acceptable. If so, I'll support it regardless of whom it benefits politically. And if this GO6 plan is what it appears to be (which it may well not be -- let's keep following this in the days to come), then it is something that I will support.