Economic Program | Memo

Why All-or-Nothing Approaches Won't Fix the Budget

by David Kendall and Ryan McConaghy

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After what was said to be a productive White House budget meeting—a meeting in which Vice President Biden put Medicare on the table—House Majority Leader Eric Cantor once again took revenue off the table. Thus, the drive to build a consensus behind a balanced approach to America’s impending budget crisis is sputtering. The Gang of Six has shrunk to five. The special election in New York has emboldened some Democrats to oppose any entitlement cuts. And Republicans still won’t tolerate any discussion about taxes.

This memo looks at the two main ideological bumper-sticker agendas to fix the budget: a cuts-only approach based on the Ryan plan from the right and a tax-the-rich approach based mostly on two progressive proposals from the left. They both fail. The conservative blueprint would mean half the border guards, DEA agents, air traffic controllers, and food inspectors that keep us safe. A 100% tax rate on the rich still leaves a trillion dollar hole.

As former President Clinton said yesterday, we can’t “tip-toe” around the budget.

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