Skip to main content

After Obama's speech, Greenstein gave an analysis of Obamas deficit reduction plan which I completely agreed with. However, he qualified his praise for Obama's deficit plan by saying that, while to the left of Bowles-Simpson, it was to the right of Rivlin-Domenici, which many progressives, for reasons I don't understand, prefer. Paul Krugman, who like me has absolute faith in Greenstein, basically planted Rivlin-Domenici as the most left of the 4 major plans (2 commissions, Obama, Ryan). This has me troubled, since this is now being repeated among progrossives and I completely disagree. I figured I would explain myself by looking at 2 central areas where Rivlin-Domenici falls short imo, i.e. Taxes(relative to perception) and Medicare(relative to any plan out there besides Ryan):


Greenstein uses the simple formula of measuring the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Obama is at a 2:1 ratio where Rivlin-Domenici is 1:1. But Greenstein makes the mistake of assuming that ALL tax increases are good. Rivlin-Domenici has a lot of revenues coming from a 6.5%(I think) VAT that is extremely regressive and is harmful to low and middle income americans. Obama's plan for revenues is basically $1 Trillion in loopholes, subsidies, and various deductions capped for the top 2%, plus an additional 700 Billion from the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy which isn't factored into the math due to simple expiration.

So, on revenue, Bowles-Simpson is the worst because it keeps the top rates at 35% and has 1 Trillion in revenue thats moderately progressive. Obama's tax increases are, in dollar terms, right between the two commissions. However, its easily the most progressive because the increases are EXCLUSIVELY on the wealthy. I still probably favor Rivlin-Domenici  with revenue because the value gap is a little bigger than regressive-progressive gap. However, its not as stark as only looking at the ratio would tell you.


Now...even if you disagree with my tax analysis, or if you, like many progressives, feel tax revenues on the middle class are still good, thats fine. Because what really, really, really shoots down the notion that Rivlin-Domenici is to the left of Obama's plan is what they do with Medicare. Essentially, they voucherize it like Ryan, but have more generous subsidies. They still dismantle medicare completely and put senior citizens at the mercy of the private insurance industry, which almost on its own makes this plan conservative. In addition to the privatization of Medicare, Rivlin-Domenici has far deeper dollar figure cuts to Medicare/Medicaid than even Bowles-Simpson. It's not much a leap to make that combining deep cuts with privatization will result in the "savings" being accrued by seniors in ways that make the rest of the plan irrelevant. Domenici is to the right of Bowles-Simpson.


Like I said in the intro, the reason I felt the need to post this is cause everyone from The Nation, to Lawrence O'donnell, to even Krugman have basically followed Greenstein(whom I love) into strictly using the Tax:Spending ratio as the sole barometer for measuring the progressive nature of these plans. I think those of us who follow this closely know the basic countours of Obama's plan, but where many fall short is in not knowing all the details of Rivlin-Domenici, or forgetting them as is probably the case with Krugman and Greenstein, but instead focusing of the important, but slightly overrated, structural Tax:Spend ratio.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site