The "Plan B" Christmas Tree

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 20 2012 12:12 PM

The "Plan B" Christmas Tree

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A Franciscan monk walks past a shop selling Christmas trees and ornaments in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's old city on December 20, 2012.

Photo by GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images

John Boehner's "Plan B" alternative to negotiating with Barack Obama over a fiscal cliff alternative was supposed to be a simple measure to shift the pressure points—extend Bush tax rates for all income below $1 million, create a new millionaire's bracket that uses the old Clinton marginal rate.

But lots of House conservatives didn't love that idea, so now Plan B also tries to roll back Dodd-Frank bank regulation reforms and turn us back to Bush-era financial regulation policy. It also cuts food stamps, Medicaid spending, and some Affordable Care Act provisions. In other words, it's a whole conservative Christmas tree.

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There's nothing wrong with that. If the point of the legislation is to outline a conservative alternative to Obama's position, they may as well stuff it with things conservatives like. But its worth examining the ornaments. When John Boehner needs to add spending cuts to a deficit reduction bill to make his most conservative members happy, they don't want to reindex Social Security benefits. They don't want to monkey with the Medicare eligibility age. That's not the stuff that gets them jazzed up. Taking food out of the mouths of hungry children, by contrast, is something they're excited about. They're eager to reduce regulation on banks and cut back on poor people's health care. Cutting spending on the eldelry is something they'll maybe consider as part of a deal with Obama. Cutting spending on the poor is their idea of Christmas.

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

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