One of the most remarkable moments of last night’s debate was when Mitt Romney rejected the idea of implementing the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan while insisting that President Obama should have implemented it.
Lehrer: Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles? Do you support Simpson-Bowles?
Romney: Simpson-Bowles. The president should have grabbed that…
Lehrer: I mean do you support Simpson-Bowles?
Romney: I have my own plan. It’s not the same as Simpson-Bowles. But in my view the president should have grabbed it, if you wanted to make some adjustments to it, go to congress, fight for it…
As you may or may not be aware, one of the primary reasons Simpson-Bowles was never adopted is because it never made it out of congress after Romney’s vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan lead the charge to vote it down. The Republicans ultimately opposed the plan because it included a significant stream of new revenue in addition to a significant amount of cuts.
Obviously what Mitt Romney said during last night’s debate was disingenuous and misleading, but it’s also ironic, because according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, roughly half of the savings found in the Simpson-Bowles plan has already been implemented by the Obama administration.
Policymakers have already enacted about half of Bowles-Simpson’s nearly $2.9 trillion of program cuts. Because of the caps on discretionary funding in last year’s Budget Control Act (BCA), discretionary spending will be $1.5 trillion lower over 2013-2022 than under the Congressional Budget Office’s August 2010 baseline (the baseline in use when the Bowles-Simpson commission deliberated). Including the associated interest savings, the total budget savings reach $1.7 trillion.
The majority of the savings in Bowles-Simpson that haven’t yet been achieved is on the revenue side. Excluding the enacted savings, the Bowles-Simpson plan would achieve an additional $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years, consisting of $1 in program cuts for every $2 in revenue increases.
Why haven’t savings on the revenue side been implemented yet? Because, again, the Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, adamantly oppose adopting any new streams of revenue.
Mitt Romney reiterated that himself last night during the very same exchange.
From the 2:00 minute mark
President Obama: Governor Romney has ruled out revenue.
Lehrer: Is that true?
Romney: Absolutely. The revenue I get is from more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes.
In other words, Mitt Romney’s plan for additional revenue is trickle-down economics. It’s tax cut magic. The same phony line of non-reason trotted out by the Bush administration to justify passing the Bush Tax Cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year.
And not to let it go unchallenged, Romney’s lines about trillion dollar deficits is also not true. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit will drop below $1 trillion to $901 billion in 2013 and almost entirely vanish by 2017 thanks to the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts.