An analysis of the Obama "Grand Bargain" on the debt ceiling by Citizens for Tax Justice suggests that it only preserves 20% of the $4T in public services relative to the Republican proposal, while it gives them 80% of what they want in tax cuts. Worst: neither proposal actually reduces the deficit. If either proposal is adopted, it will mean horrific pain yet no debt reduction gain.
George Wallace said 40 years ago that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the parties. That certainly wasn't true then.
But now... it's harder and harder to tell who is the radical right-wing crazy on budget issues.
Citizens for Tax Justice is a well-regarded think tank. Their numbers are reliable. Therefore, when they write this, we should be worried:
Both Sides of Debt Ceiling Talks Propose Increasing the Budget Deficit
President’s and GOP’s Positions Both Include Greater Tax Cuts than Spending Cuts
It’s hard to say what will happen with the necessary increase in the federal debt ceiling. Perhaps something like the proposal put forward by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to essentially raise the debt ceiling without any guarantee of cuts in spending or revenue increases will be adopted. Or perhaps the President will continue to try to get congressional Republicans to agree to a “grand bargain” that would supposedly reduce the budget deficit by $4 trillion over ten years.
But one thing is clear: Almost anything that the President and the Congress can possibly agree upon will not reduce projected budget deficits. Instead, it will increase them. The problem is that both sides want to extend all or most of the expiring Bush tax cuts. And neither side has proposed spending cuts or tax increases large enough to offset the tremendous cost of such an extension.
Here is what the two sides proposed in the negotiations over the possible “grand bargain”:
Congressional GOP position: Extend all of the Bush tax cuts, which are otherwise scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. Such an extension would cost $5.4 trillion over the upcoming decade.  To offset most, but not all of that cost, Republicans want to slash public services, to save about $4 trillion over 10 years. Net deficit increase: $1.4 trillion.
President Obama’s position: Extend 81 percent of the Bush tax cuts plus some other, smaller tax cuts he has promoted, at a cost of about $4.7 trillion over 10 years. He proposes to offset part of that cost by slashing public services, to save about $3.2 trillion over 10 years. Reports indicate that the President has discussed several measures to close tax loopholes. While it’s uncertain exactly what has been discussed, even if we assume that the President is pushing all of the tax loophole-closing proposals in his most recent budget blueprint, that would save only $0.7 trillion over a decade. Net deficit increase: $0.8 trillion.
I did not love Obama before he was elected. I do not hate him now. I assume that the tax cuts he wants to extend will go toward the middle class, while the ones he does not want to extend go to the very wealthy. I assume that his priorities on public spending are less damaging that Republican parties.
But there is not $320 B per year in public services that are inessential. Cuts of this magnitude would endanger the nation. Neither proposal is responsible.
It's harder and harder to tell in the debt ceiling negotiations just who is the right-wing crazy.