Cuts Only?

by Andrew Stiles

Many liberals have lamented (and some conservatives boasted) that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D., Nev.) deficit plan consists entirely of spending cuts. Hardly. To start, Reid’s plan proposes to set revenue levels according the Congressional Budget Office baseline, which follows current law, as opposed to current policy. Current law, of course, assumes the expiration of certain business tax extenders, the Alternative Minimum Tax patch, and the Bush tax rates. So in effect, Reid’s plan assumes an overall tax hike of about $3.5 trillion to $3.8 trillion over ten years. 

Not only that, but a Republican source tells me that Democrats are currently negotiating for automatic tax increases as part of a trigger mechanism that will go into effect if the bipartisan committee called for in Reid’s (and Boehner’s) plan fails to reach an agreement on an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction. Several GOP Senators confirm that this is the primary hang-up in the ongoing negotiations. Meanwhile, Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) has been shuttling back and forth between Reid and Mitch McConnell’s offices in an effort to negotiate a solution, but tells reporters there’s still no deal.

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