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What’s the Ratio, Kenneth?



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Remember when part of the president’s big plan for dividing Republicans following the midterms was going to be to force them to vote on the fiscal commission’s recommendations? Richard Wolffe, who has pretty good sources inside the administration, wrote, “The White House plans to test Republicans’ unity and political resolve on three controversial issues: repealing the Bush tax cuts, implementing the deficit commission’s findings, and pushing immigration reform.”

The Democrats have already more or less caved on item one, and item three seems pretty implausible. Now it turns out that the fiscal commission (at least its co-chairs) has defied expectations and put a set of serious cuts on the table. Yes, the tax hikes are pricey, and no one is ever going to like every single item on the menu. But it’s important to look at the ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes when deciding whether the commission has served up something conservatives can swallow, and by my (very rough) estimate it looks like about 75 percent of the deficit reduction comes from spending cuts. That’s about as good as we can get on a big budget compromise with a problem this large, and the fact that the commission is starting with that ratio probably accounts for the (cautiously) optimistic responses the proposals are getting from Republicans and moderate Democrats vs. the exploding heads on the left. Compare and contrast:

Republicans:
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg: “The proposal that the Co-Chairmen of the Commission have put forward is an aggressive and comprehensive plan for getting federal spending, deficits and the debt under control. I look forward to reviewing it in depth and hopefully improving on it.”

House Budget Committee ranking member (and future chairman) Paul Ryan: “This is a serious and impressive effort. . . . It’s a good start.”

Reps. Ryan, Hensarling, and Camp: “This is a provocative proposal, and while we have concerns with some of their specifics, we commend the co-chairs for advancing the debate.”

Moderate Democrats:
Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad: “. . . a good beginning.”

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus: “It’s a lot to digest. I support the goal. . . . [We're] at the early stages.”

Liberal Democrats:
Senate majority whip Dick Durbin: “I told them that there are things in there that inspire me, and there are things in there that I hate like the devil hates holy water. I’m not going to vote for this thing.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky: “. . . not a proposal that I could support right now.”

Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “. . . simply unacceptable.”

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman: (Head explodes.)



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