I imagine I'll still be asleep when Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin announce their version of a deficit reduction plan on Wednesday morning, but their op-ed in the Washington Post sure makes it sound awfully similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan. That's no surprise, I guess, since there are only just so many ways to skin this particular cat. Short version: Cut tax rates and eliminate most deductions and credits. No carbon tax, no VAT, no financial transaction tax. Freeze domestic and military discretionary spending for several years at 2011 levels, which amounts to a gradual cut of about $100 million on each side, and then cap future growth. Balance Social Security by raising the earnings cap, cutting benefits for high earners, and changing the COLA calculation. Control healthcare costs by phasing out the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care and reforming medical malpractice laws.
A few things are different. They make a point of phasing in their plan gradually beginning in 2012 so it doesn't interfere with the current economic recovery. There's a one-year payroll tax holiday for 2011 to stimulate the economy. They raise some revenue via a 6.5% "debt-reduction sales tax," whatever that is. They don't increase the retirement age for Social Security. And they address the health costs tied to rising obesity by imposing a tax on high-calorie sodas. Seriously.
More later, I'm sure. Like it or not, it's deficit season in Washington D.C. Resistance is futile.