From Pine View Farm

Curing the Deficit 2

Robert J. Samuelson, never one to be accused of being liberal, or, in some cases, of being moderate, has a recipe for curing the deficit:

First, you’d repeal the Medicare drug benefit, scheduled to take effect in 2006. For the next five years (2006-2010), the savings would total about $300 billion, estimates the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Preserving an existing drug benefit for low-income recipients might reduce savings by 5 percent.

Second, you’d repeal a tax cut scheduled for 2006 that would benefit mainly people in the top brackets (taxable incomes exceeding $182,800 and $326,450 for couples in 2005). These groups have already received big tax cuts; the new reductions involve repealing limits on deductions and personal exemptions. The 2006-2010 savings: about $30 billion, estimates the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

Third, you’d eliminate all “earmarks” in the recent highway bill. These are projects targeted by congressmen and senators for their own districts. The highway bill contained $24 billion in earmarks, says Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group.

Makes sense to me. As one nearing retirement age, I could easily support each of these proposals. Even the Medicare drug benefit (that reminds me: I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine today; better stop reading the news) was ill-conceived, ill-enacted, and, with its provision that the government could not negotiate drug prices, more a gift to Big Pharma than a benefit to the needy.

And I must note that all of the legislation he would undo was enacted under the current Federal Administration and the current Republican Congress. None of it was initiated by the so-called “tax and spend” liberals. It all resulted from the “spend and spend” conservatives.



  1. Opie

    November 4, 2005 at 6:51 pm

    ” It all resulted from the “spend and spendâ€? conservatives.”

    And not a single proposal Samuelson outlines would guarantee deficit reduction. Cutting programs only lowers spending if you don’t spend the money on something else, and tax increases (or repeals of tax reductions, however you want to look at it) aren’t even spending reductions at all. The only way they’ll solve the deficit problem is to focus on the bottom line.

  2. Frank

    November 4, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    True, tax increases are not spending reductions. They are income enhancement. Increased revenue affects the bottom line just as much as decreased outgo. The bottom line means a combination of meaningful reductions and tax increases.

    What troubles me most about the current Federal Administration’s and the Congressional Republicans’ proposals is that they uniformly target programs targeted to those who already have little or nothing, while feeding more and more money to those who have so much money that they are in the “If You Have To Ask the Price, You Can’t Afford It” class.

    Well, that’s not quite true. Now they are ready to go after the tax deductions that benefit the Middle Class–the deductions for state and local taxes and for mortgage interest.

    If nothing else shows their allegiance to the Very Very Rich, that does.