In a fine oped that lined up with some of things I’ve been saying, David Brooks gets worried about the ability of the current Republican Party to engage in rational negotiation leading to budget deal.
But then there’s this:
“If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.” [my bold]
I take it he means a few hundred billion, not million.
But his mistake is revealing.
A deal that includes revenues is essential to avoid deeply harmful cuts that would do a lot more harm than good to both the economy and the most vulnerable people in it.
The problem is, the revenue part of the debate is devolving to a 0/1 discussion—they’re either in or out, without regard to their magnitude. While I agree that it is symbolically important to break the Norquist hold on the Congress, a few hundred billion (with a ‘B’!) in revenues against trillions in tax cuts would be too unbalanced a deal for Democrats to accept.
I see two negotiating options. One is to take a more serious stab at balance on the revenue side by going after bigger ticket tax expenditures…here’s a menu. Or two, adjust the spending cuts down to reflect the lower-than-desired revenue amounts in the deal.
In the President’s original framework, he had two dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of higher revenues ($2 trillion in cuts; $1 trillion in revs). That means if we’re looking at say, $500 billion in higher revenues over 10 or 12 years, Democrats should agree to no more than $1 trillion in spending cuts.
And if that’s not a typo—if Brooks really means ‘m’ not ‘b’—then there can be no deal.
Update: Typo now fixed in Brooks’ oped. But the point remains–a few hundred billion in revenues against trillions in spending cuts is not a balanced plan. And the President himself called for such a plan at a press conference earlier (“…I believe we need a balanced approach”).