WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairmen of President Barack Obama's 2010 fiscal commission are wading back into Washington's budget wars with a revised, somewhat milder plan to rein in intractable federal deficits.
The plan released Thursday night by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., would lop more than $5 trillion from deficits over the upcoming decade when combined with the deficit-cutting steps enacted in fits and starts since his 2010 proposal.
It's unclear what impact the updated plan will have on a capital that's bitterly split over taxes, spending and government debt. The initial Bowles-Simpson plan won warm reviews from deficit hawks but got a chilly reception from Obama and much of the rest of official Washington for its tough mix of tax increases and cuts to benefits programs like Medicare and Social Security.
The revised plan by Bowles and Simpson reveals a familiar mix of revenue collected by cleansing the tax code of deductions, cutting agency budgets and curbing the growth of Social Security and Medicare.
Bowles and Simpson would add $2.5 trillion in new deficit cuts over 2014-2023 on top of about $2.7 trillion estimated to have already been enacted through cuts to agency budgets and January's tax increase on wealthier earners. It assumes $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts imposed for the failure of Washington to replace them are repealed.
The revised blueprint arrives as Washington is familiarly gridlocked over the budget. January's tax deal has stiffened GOP resolve against further tax increases. Obama's recently unveiled plan for lower inflation increases for Social Security recipients — an idea embraced by Bowles and Simpson — has landed with a thud among most Democrats.