The Republicans said that President Obama’s offer on the fiscal cliff fix was “not serious.” So yesterday they came back with one of their own.
That framework aims to raise new revenue through an overhaul of the tax code. It also calls for slicing $600 billion from federal health programs, in part by increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, and saving $200 billion by applying a less generous measure of inflation to all federal programs, including Social Security benefits, according to GOP aides.
For the first time, Boehner managed to get his entire leadership team — including conservative champions such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the 2012 vice-presidential candidate — to publicly sign on to a plan that explicitly calls for new tax revenue. Republicans say they are willing to extract all the new tax money from households earning more than $250,000 a year, the same group Obama wants to target with higher tax rates. But the GOP plan would raise the money by wiping out deductions instead of raising rates.
In a meeting with reporters, Boehner called it “a credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House.”
It’s basically the same stuff that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were offering up until about a month ago when they lost the election. No tax rate changes, severe cuts to programs for the middle class, and deficit reduction through the magic of closing loopholes, which is one step away from traveling to the Delta Quadrant via a wormhole.
The only point of this counteroffer was to show what “not serious” really looks like.
Charlie Pierce says we don’t need a “deal” anyway.
For example, there is not clamoring in the country — or any real need — for the kind of austerity agenda to which all the fiscal cliffies seem to be trying to accustom us. If inefficiency is all that saves us from a damaging set of policies, then god bless inefficiency. (And remember old Dan Webster’s warning that the simplest governments in the world are despotisms.) If that inconveniences the mandarin class, well, that’s just going to have to be too bad.