We all know the major drivers of this careening national debt train are entitlement programs, yet this plan proposes no real structural reforms. Now don't tell me this is rocket science. It doesn't take years to come up with a plan to restructure entitlements, yet the president and the Democratic obstructers in Congress continue to apply nonstick bandages instead of major remodeling.
Rep. Paul Ryan has already offered a very feasible plan; it's already there, and it's specific. Instead of lauding Ryan for doing his homework and exhibiting the courage to craft and offer a real solution, they demagogue and excoriate him.
The Democrats want to continue to put off entitlement reform and real spending cuts while demanding immediate tax increases because that's where their hearts are. If they were genuinely amenable to entitlement reform, they'd be embracing Ryan now instead of giving us empty promises for future action.
Indeed, the Six-pack promises that its plan includes $1.5 trillion in tax relief. But look behind the curtains where the tax wizards lurk. The Heritage Foundation tells us that the bill would generate an additional $1 trillion in revenue, plus $133 billion for the Highway Trust Fund. (Can these people ever pass a bill without larding it up with new spending? Can we ever forgo a project for the sake of saving the nation?)
The plan would also legislate the Bush tax cuts out of existence, which would increase taxes an additional $3.8 trillion. The upshot is that taxes would increase almost $5 trillion and decrease by $1.5 trillion (according to some), which means we'd be facing nearly $3.5 trillion in net new taxes in the middle of a flagging economy.
Has Congress ever used increased revenues to retire debt? Don't make us laugh. They are always a license for more spending; always!
Unlike Ryan's plan but much like President Obama's series of unserious and nonspecific budget plans (they're more like vague letters of intent), the Six-pack's plan provides no spending targets, in actual dollars or as a percentage of gross domestic product. Just as with Obama's stimulus plan, there are no guideposts against which to measure its success or to ensure accountability. But even the spending cuts it does promise over 10 years, between $1.5 trillion and $2.5 trillion (there's not even a consensus on what the plan would provide), are minuscule next to the government's projected spending of $46 trillion over the next decade.