The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzes the offer made by Super Congress Democrats in their deficit plan, and find it really puts the catfood in the Catfood Commission II.
The new deficit-reduction plan from a majority of Democrats on the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the "supercommittee") marks a dramatic departure from traditional Democratic positions—and actually stands well to the right of plans by the co-chairs of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission and the Senate's "Gang of Six," and even further to the right of the plan by the bipartisan Rivlin-Domenici commission. The Democratic plan contains substantially smaller revenue increases than those bipartisan proposals while, for example, containing significantly deeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid than the Bowles-Simpson plan. The Democratic plan features a substantially higher ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases than any of the bipartisan plans.Take a look at some of the numbers:
Note: That's Medicare beneficiary cuts, cuts that will have to be deeper than just some Medicare Part D cuts. It's breaking the promise Democrats have made to draw the line at provider cuts, to leave cuts to benefits out. This, coupled with the chained CPI (which will cause pain well beyond just seniors) would hurt people.
- The Democratic plan contains $92 billion more in Medicare and Medicaid cuts ($475 billion) than Bowles-Simpson ($383 billion), and the same or a greater amount of cuts in this area than the Gang of Six plan.
- At the same time, the Democratic plan contains $800 to $900 billion less in revenue increases than the Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six plans.
- The cuts in discretionary programs are as deep in the Democratic plan as in Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six.
- When considered in conjunction with the discretionary program cuts enacted in the Budget Control Act of this past summer and measured against the baseline that Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six used, the Democratic plan results in a much greater ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases—at least 6 to 1 [...]—than Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six, both of which had 2-to-1 ratios, including debt-service savings. [...]
- The Democratic plan has $200 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts, a level that exceeds the beneficiary cuts in Bowles-Simpson (the Gang of Six is not specific on this point) and is eight times the level of Medicare beneficiary cuts in the budget plan that President Obama released on September 19. Since half of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below about $21,000, it would be extremely difficult to secure $200 billion in savings from increased Medicare beneficiary charges without requiring significantly larger out-of-pocket payments by beneficiaries with incomes as low as $12,000 or $15,000.
Now, it's not entirely clear why these Catfood Commission II Democrats haven't gotten the memo that austerity is on it's way out as a political good. The Republican National Committee and Rep. Paul Ryan get it, even though they're full of shit. Speaker John Boehner may even get it. What these Republicans understand is that the the Occupy movement is changing the political narrative, and they're responding.
Greg Sargent asks the million dollar political question: "With polls suggesting Dems are winning the argument over economic fairness and inequality, does this kind of of proposal risk undermining the sharp contrast between the parties that has been brought into relief by resurgent populism?"
In a nutshell, hell yes. And if Democrats think that Republicans won't use this against them, they're either stupid or naive. Sargent has well documented the Republicans' eagerness to attack Democrats from the left on Medicare, and they'll be more than willing to do so on Social Security as well. It worked for Republicans in 2010, when they turned the votes of seniors over Medicare. This far right proposal from Catfood Democrats gives them all the opening they need to do so.