The new Republican plan provides for slightly more than $3 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years, relative to a current-policy baseline that assumes extension of all the 2001-2003 tax cuts. [...] Of that amount, only about 1 percent of the deficit reduction ($40 billion) stems from revenue increases. And, compared to the "plausible baseline" that the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission and the Senate's Gang of Six used, which assumes expiration of the upper-income tax cuts, the latest Republican plan actually provides for tax cuts of more than $800 billion over ten years. [...]
Because of its lack of revenue increases, the Republican plan both achieves less deficit reduction and makes much deeper cuts in programs that benefit low- and moderate-income families and individuals than does the Democratic offer: [...]
- The Republican plan makes deeper cuts in Medicare than the Democratic offer—$500 billion versus $400 billion. Of particular note, four-fifths of the Republicans' proposed Medicare cuts—$400 billion—would directly affect beneficiaries through higher premiums, higher cost sharing, and more restrictive eligibility criteria. In the Democratic proposal, $200 billion of the Medicare cuts would apply to beneficiaries, with the rest falling on pharmaceutical companies and other health care providers. Since half of Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $21,100 in 2010, it would be virtually impossible to achieve this level of beneficiary cuts without imposing substantial increases in out-of-pocket costs on near-poor elderly and disabled people—those between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty line (about $11,000 to $22,000 for an individual). Yet the typical Medicare beneficiary in this income range already pays 23 percent of income for out-of-pocket costs, a percentage that would increase significantly under both plans—especially under the Republican plan.
- The Republican plan also would make far deeper cuts in Medicaid—$185 billion versus $75 billion over ten years under the Democratic plan. Cuts of this depth would shift substantial costs to state governments, which would lead to state actions that limit care for the low-income children, parents, seniors, and people with disabilities whom Medicaid serves.
- The Republican plan also would make sharper cuts in mandatory spending programs other than Medicare and Medicaid—$685 billion versus $385 billion under the Democratic plan and $364 billion under Bowles-Simpson. This level of cuts is close to that in the Ryan budget. Although the proposal does not specify how much will be cut from specific programs, at least half of these cuts are likely to be made in programs serving low-income Americans, such as food stamps.
That's the gulf that would have to be bridged for some sort of Grand Bargain that has once again become all the rage in D.C. It's a gulf that's way too huge, considering there's still no commitment on the part of Republicans to create real revenue. They aren't willing to share any sacrifice, so Democrats should just remove the whole idea of sacrifice from the table, as long as who gets hurt are those who are already most vulnerable.