September 20, 2014

Combine Best of Budget Plans

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

Budgets proposed by President Obama and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan have received considerable attention in Washington this year. But both have serious shortcomings and lack bipartisan support.

“Budgets that fail to make tough compromises between Democrats and Republicans may please the party faithful,” says Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition. “But they won’t get us out of the deep fiscal hole both parties have had a hand in digging.”

In fact, he argues in a recent Politico op-ed, the Obama and Ryan budgets illustrate that the compromise proposals developed by the chairmen of the President’s bipartisan fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, were on target – and deserve more consideration than they have received since their release in late 2010.

Obama’s budget relies on both spending cuts and tax increases to bring the deficit down. But Bixby says it stops short “of the structural changes needed to keep the debt from again rising to unsustainable levels” and is, at best, “a stopgap.”

Ryan’s plan claims to reduce the deficit more quickly, with policies that would keep the deficit from eventually rising again. But Bixby says this plan relies on implausible assumptions, notably that popular tax subsidies and spending on everything other than the big entitlement programs and defense “would virtually disappear.”

Bixby says a compromise that included the strengths of both plans isn’t too hard to imagine: Democrats would have to agree to a structural change to reduce future spending in Medicare, and Republicans would have to agree to use some new revenue from tax reform for deficit reduction. But doing one without the other, Bixby cautions, “is a political nonstarter.”

Read more with Combine the Best of Obama and Ryan Plans