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Former senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles released an update to their much-hyped 2010 deficit reduction plan Tuesday, claiming the mantle of bipartisanship to urge the president and Congress to make a constructive effort to turn around the rising deficit.

The summary of the most recent report, titled “A Bipartisan Path Forward To Securing America’s Future,” advises the administration and members of Congress to take measures including both spending cuts and new tax revenues that will promote economic growth and cut the national debt from 73 percent to 70 percent of GDP over the next 10 years.

Simpson and Bowles state in the summary, “There is no perfect solution to our fiscal problems. However, we believe strongly and sincerely that an agreement on a comprehensive plan to bring our debt under control is possible if both sides are able to put their sacred cows on the table in the spirit of principled compromise. We understand that there will be disagreements among policymakers and experts about the exact approach and specific policies necessary to achieve deficit reduction, and we welcome their commentary.”

Their new plan would lower the deficit by an additional $2.4 trillion over 10 years by cutting earned benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid by $600 billion, bringing in $600 billion in revenue by amending the tax code and closing loopholes, and making another $1.2 trillion cuts in spending which exclude any savings accumulated from the draw-down of troops in Afghanistan.

During a speech today at the White House, President Obama echoed the broad outline of Simpson and Bowles’ approach. “I’m willing to save hundreds of billions of dollars by enacting comprehensive tax reform that gets rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well off and well connected, without raising tax rates,” the president said. “I believe such a balanced approach that combines tax reform with some additional spending reforms, done in a smart, thoughtful way is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction and avoid these cuts once and for all that could hurt our economy, slow our recovery, put people out of work.” Watch the full speech here.

While they can agree on some aspects of the plan, however, President Obama and Democrats in Congress will likely view the new Simpson-Bowles plan as a non-starter, since it calls for far more spending cuts — especially in health care and Social Security — without nearly enough increases in tax revenue. The new Simpson-Bowles plan adheres to Republican demands by proposing nearly $1 trillion more in deficit reduction than its 2010 counterpart.

Under President Obama, the deficit has already been reduced by $2.5 trillion, requiring only $1.5 trillion more to meet the recommendations of the original 2010 Simpson-Bowles plan.  Opponents of the new plan justly claim that there ought to be an expansion in tax revenues and more of a reduction in spending cuts than the new Simpson-Bowles plan suggests.

Simpson and Bowles pitched their plan on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown Tuesday morning; that interview can be seen below:


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Photo credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster


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