The Corner

Details, Such as They Are, on the Gang of Six Plan

Okay, so the McConnell plan is far from optimal, and “Cut, Cap, and Balance” has exactly zero chance of becoming law. But, hark! The “Gang of Six” has been resurrected at the last (and I do mean last) possible moment and has a plan for $3.7–$4.6 trillion (depending on the baseline) deficit reduction over the next ten years. Good, right?

I wish. The only documentation of the plan I’ve seen so far is hopelessly vague, and where it does get into specifics, they are mostly not encouraging. There is only $500 billion in immediate cuts and a “process” by which congressional committees are instructed to “report” legislation identifying the rest of the savings within six months. It’s a bit too late in the game for that sort of thing, no?

On the better side, the plan would reduce marginal tax rates and eliminate the AMT, promising a net $1.5 trillion tax reduction. But as Conn Carroll points out, the plan probably assumes a baseline in which the AMT is not patched every year and in which the Bush tax cuts expire. As a result, the plan would represent a substantial tax hike over current policy. It would also eliminate the CLASS Act, which was one of the stinkier tack-ons in Obamacare. But again, this isn’t all that significant either. The Democrats spent months trumpeting this long-term care program in the leadup to the passage of the ACA — not least because it helped the bill’s deficit reduction “score” — only to have the White House do a 180 and acknowledged that the program is deeply flawed.

For all the discord among Republicans on the way forward, it’s a point of near consensus that any failsafe bill that raises the debt ceiling by x should lock in cuts >x. This doesn’t do that, not by a longshot.

UPDATE: Cato’s Dan Mitchell has a more thorough take on “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in the Gang of Six proposal.


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