Apr
05
2012

All the Smart People Love Bowles/Simpson–Says Bowles

The corporate media love bipartisanship. So the news that a "bipartisan" budget failed a vote in the House was something to be mourned.

Under the headline "Budget Plan's Defeat Shows Hurdles to Compromise," New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman (4/2/12) explains that this budget proposal modeled on the media-beloved Bowles/Simpson plan failed because "Washington's conservative and liberal influence machines swung into action." By that he seems to mean think tanks that were critical of the plan.

He adds:

The Bowles/Simpson deficit plan–named after the former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine B. Bowles and former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, the Republican who was chairman of President Obama's deficit reduction commission–is regarded by the Washington cognoscenti as the compromise both sides will have to eventually accept before the end of the year.

Now what on Earth does that mean? The "cognoscenti"–the people with special knowledge–apparently would exclude an array of progressive economists and budget experts, who must know a lot less about these things than a former Republican senator (Simpson) and a Clinton Democrat with a lot of experience in Wall Street banking and finance.

So what's not to love about Bowles/Simpson? As Extra! (1/11) pointed out:

Though emblematic of the "political center" for the Times, the duo's proposal is actually remarkably regressive, cutting Social Security benefits for a median-income retiree by 22 percent (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 11/16/10) while lowering effective tax rates for the wealthy below what they paid during the Clinton years. Economists like Krugman (New York Times, 11/12/10), Baker (New Republic, 11/11/10), James Galbraith (AlterNet, 9/10/10), Robert Kuttner (Huffington Post, 11/14/10), Robert Reich (Salon, 11/12/10) and Henry Aaron (Fiscal Times, 11/12/10) weighed in against the plan, describing it as slanted toward harsh spending cuts and unresponsive to the real problems of the economy.

For the record, the quote that followed the assertion in the Times about how all the smart people in Washington recognize the wisdom of the Bowles/Simpson approach comes from… Erskine Bowles! No other members of the "cognoscenti" weigh in.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.