Do Simpson-Bowles Fans Know What's In It?

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 21 2011 5:55 PM

Do Simpson-Bowles Fans Know What's In It?

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The new dynamic duo: Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

"Kirk Calls for Vote on Bowles-Simpson Commission Plan if Super Committe Fails" reads the headline on the press release. That's Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois. He's teaming up with Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia to make the call. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, is also talking up the Bowles-Simpson Commission plan.

The Obama White House was the prime mover behind the creation of the Bowles-Simpson Commission and liberals didn't really like its output, so ever since Obama chose not to throw his presidential weight behind the terms of their proposal citing Bowles-Simpson has become a staple of the president's critics. The problem is that most of these critics don't seem to be familiar with the content of the plan which has double the tax increases and double the defense spending cuts of the more recent plans out of the White House. If it were really true that Bowles-Simpson represented the right pole of the debate in Washington, we'd be having a very different conversation. The more likely reality is simply that Bowles-Simpson is "bipartisan" and not what the president put on the table. Since various people want to criticize Obama, and want to be bipartisan, this is the flag they're waving even while they simultaneously object to the president proposing more modestly scaled versions of the same ideas. 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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