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Editorial Praise for Simpson-Bowles Budget Alternative As Framework For Bipartisan Solution on Debt

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Editorial Praise for Simpson-Bowles Budget Alternative As Framework For Bipartisan Solution on Debt

When the House of Representatives considered the Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution on Wednesday, March 29  several Representatives led by Representatives Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) offered a bipartisan budget alternative based on the Simpson-Bowles plan. Because it was offered as an amendment to the Congressional Budget resolution, which simply sets overall revenue and spending levels and a blueprint for the committees of jurisdiction to come up with savings, the Cooper-LaTourette amendment did not include the specific policy recommendations in the Simpson-Bowles plan. Instead the framework and principles provided in the amendment were largely consistent with the Simpson-Bowles plan, and were updated to reflect actions since the plan was put forward in December of 2010.

The Cooper-LaTourette amendment was the only bipartisan budget considered by the House of Representatives.  Because the plan would require sacrifices in all parts of the budget, including defense and domestic spending, entitlements and revenues, the amendment came under harsh attacks  from special interests on both ends of the political spectrum.  Damian Paletta of The Wall Street Journal reported that “liberal and conservative groups appeared to be so alarmed that the budget resolution might gain momentum Wednesday night that they issued sharp news releases hours before the vote warning members not to compromise.”  In the face of these attacks and the partisan environment surrounding the budget resolution debate in the House of Representatives, the amendment was defeated.  The amendment was supported by a bipartisan group of 38 brave legislators, 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans.

Despite the vote against the bipartisan budget amendment, many observers noted that the approach in that alternative and the Simpson-Bowles plan on which it was based offers the best hope for a bipartisan agreement on a serious plan to address our nation’s debt and represents the most responsible alternative to the “fiscal cliff” facing policymakers at the end of the year. As Fiscal Commission and Moment of Truth project co-chair Erskine Bowles stated in an email exchange with the New York Times, "When the two parties get serious about compromise and getting something done that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, they will turn to something substantive that is very similar to what we have proposed. There just aren't that many other viable options."


Read summary of Cooper-LaTourette Bipartisan Budget alternative.

Read the press statement from Bowles and Simpson.

Read CRFB blogs responding to criticisms of Cooper-LaTourette amendment here and here.


Editorial Support and Other Commentary on Cooper-LaTourette Bipartisan Budget Alternative


USA Today

Editorial: Budget compromise championed by just 38 lawmakers

One of the surest ways to lose all hope that Congress will ever solve the nation's toughest problems is to watch the annual debate over the federal budget, which took place in the House last week.

Remember, this comes at a time when budget deficits (about $1 trillion a year) and the national debt ($15.6 trillion, counting what the nation owes itself for programs such as Social Security) constitute an increasingly urgent national crisis.

What did the House do? Nothing. Democrats offered a budget that got no Republican votes. Republicans offered a budget that got no Democratic votes, but passed because the GOP controls the House. It will go nowhere in the Democratic Senate, which has no plans to take up a budget this year anyway.

If that's what passes for Congress doing its job, voters will be justified in thinking they need a new Congress. But voters are just as feckless and irresponsible. They keep electing politicians who promise not to raise their taxes or cut their benefits, and they tell pollsters they don't want their representatives to compromise. What do they expect?

There aren't many heroes in this soul-destroying process, but we found a tiny band of 38 — the 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans who voted for a bipartisan alternative budget based on the proposal from President Obama's fiscal commission in 2010. The budget proposed by Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, backed a combination of the tax increases most Republicans won't vote for and the cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security that most Democrats won't support.

Christian Science Monitor

Why the Simpson-Bowles budget defeat isn't the end of the line

Simpson-Bowles is still the top bipartisan budget deal out there – and Congress may need it when it faces a showdown in December over the expiring Bush tax cuts and mandated spending cuts.

 How could a plan that was so thoroughly creamed stay relevant? With a likely spending showdown looming in December, the plan's bipartisan bona fides make it worth pursuing, said Reps. Steven LaTourette (R) of Ohio and Jim Cooper (D) of Tennessee, the bill's sponsors, on the House floor and in interviews before the vote Wednesday.

Of the six other budget proposals before the House, ranging from plans by the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee to the Congressional Black Caucus, “there’s only one that’s bipartisan,” said Representative Cooper.

That fact is going to be important come December, when Congress will have to deal with a slew of critical financial issues, including the extension of the Bush tax cuts, the start of the spending-slashing sequester, the expiration of the payroll tax holiday, and another needed increase in the nation’s debt ceiling

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Editorial: LaTourette's proposed budget draws little support in a Congress that still can't bring itself to face reality

The plan, as LaTourette and Cooper almost gleefully admitted, had something for almost everyone in Washington to dislike. It would also lay out a path to trim some $4 trillion from the federal debt -- which totaled $15.4 trillion as of last week -- over the next decade.

Given the fact that most everyone on Capitol Hill pays lip service to the idea that federal spending is far out of balance -- and is projected to remain so, even once there's a full-blown recovery generating higher tax collections and requiring less safety-net spending -- such a proposal ought to have widespread appeal. In a divided Congress, political reality alone would dictate that sacred cows from the right and the left must be sacrificed to put the nation's fiscal house in order.

The Tennessean

Leadership failure on economy worsens

A bipartisan $4 trillion budget plan that would actually work, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, and based on the Simpson-Bowles Commission recommenda tions, was crushed by special interests on the right and the left when it appeared to be quickly picking up votes. Cooper’s and LaTourette’s plan would have combined some tax in creases and reasonable cuts to entitlement programs — painful, yes, but pain that would be shared.

Chicago Tribune

Credit to a few who pushed a bipartisan budget

Yes, the U.S. House last week torpedoed the only bipartisan budget resolution to reach the floor in more than a decade. As we note in the other editorial on this page, just 38 members voted in favor of the proposal. The vast majority of House members put partisanship above progress on the nation's debt.

The plan, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio, incorporated recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That's the group created by President Barack Obama and chaired by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. That report recommended an overhaul of government spending, tax reform and deficit reduction, but most of Congress, and even the president who created the commission, wouldn't embrace the result.

The Cooper-LaTourette measure tried to revive the ideas behind Simpson-Bowles. To their credit, House members from Illinois—Democrats Mike Quigley and Dan Lipinski and Republican Robert Dold—were co-sponsors.,0,930290.story


Editorial: Bipartisan backsliding in Congress needs to end

Nonpartisan budget experts are nearly unanimous in their belief that the nation cannot achieve long-term fiscal health without cutting spending and raising revenue. The LaTourette-Cooper Amendment offered both. But powerful forces on the right have pressured Republicans to avoid tax increases at all costs, and powerful forces on the left are urging Democrats to keep their hands off expensive entitlement programs.

This nation spends $38 for every $22 it brings in. The only realistic solution is to lower the first number and increase the second. Most members of Congress realize this, but they’re more afraid of the repercussions from special interests than from the voters.

The only way politicians will find the courage to lead is for voters to show that they will follow.

So, let them know that you have had enough, and that you demand a solution to the nation’s frightening fiscal outlook.

Dallas Morning News

House moderates stand up for fiscal sanity

They got walloped on the House floor this week. But at least Democrats Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Mike Quigley of Illinois and Republicans Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Tom Reed of New York and Steven LaTourette of Ohio had the courage to offer a bipartisan plan that would have put the budget on a glide path toward sanity. The budget resolution of the centrist legislators followed the recommendations of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission from last year. Together, their balanced proposals would have lowered the deficit by $4 trillion, overhauled the tax code and streamlined health costs. But the sensible goals fell on deaf ears. The left and right combined to kill it in the House. Taxpayers lost out, but give these guys a red badge for courage.

Mark Shields and David Brooks on PBS NewsHour

DAVID BROOKS: One of the saddest things that has happened this week is Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee, and others put together a Simpson-Bowles bill, sort of an outline, and had them vote on that. I think it got like 38 votes in the House.

And so we're going to end up there eventually. I don't know when, before or after a fiscal crisis. We'll end up with something like Simpson-Bowles. But you see the two parties not wanting to get there yet.

New York Daily News

Congress' bankrupt approach to the federal budget - Three votes reveal how hopelessly gridlocked the House is on debt and deficit

Next up for consideration was a version of the sensible debt-reduction plan proposed by former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican, and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat — in their capacity, it cannot be repeated often enough, as co-chairmen of a commission established by President Obama.

The Simpson-Bowles plan would streamline the tax code, lowering rates and eliminating deductions. It would tackle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the big drivers of debt, while taming defense and domestic discretionary spending and slashing $4 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

Month after month, supporters of the blueprint fought to get a vote by the people’s representatives. Finally, in another show of bipartisan dysfunction, they voted: 382 nays, 38 yeas…..

So there you have it: Republicans, in their all-or-nothing universe, will not consider any plan that generates more revenue. Democrats, in their all-or-nothing universe, will not contemplate asking the middle class to pay a little more — or reforming treasured domestic programs.

That mindless division has produced a perverse unity: a House united against a sound budget plan. A House united to continue playing games with the federal deficit. A House united in dysfunction, a debt without limit, with no end in sight.

Read more:

Dick Hughes, Editorial Page Editor of the Oregon Statesman Journal

People must accept bitter remedy of cuts, taxes

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Clinton administration official Erskine Bowles, had recognized that meaningful deficit reduction would require both spending cuts and tax increases.

Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, put the Simpson-Bowles concepts into a budget amendment. They were backed by Schrader and other centrist lawmakers willing to buck their party leaders, but the House rejected the proposal Wednesday night.

Such legislation has no chance of ever passing unless Americans insist their lawmakers face up to reality: The federal government must spend less, AND Americans collectively must pay more in taxes. Otherwise, the federal deficit will keep going up, and the economy will keep faltering … despite the political platitudes and campaign promises made by politicians on both sides.

Bill Crawford, The Meridian Star

Lively politics, lousy governance from Washington

There were no trumpets or fanfares. Celebration bands don’t march for commonsense, compromise proposals in Congress any more. You might have heard the crash, though. It occurred in resounding fashion last week. That’s when the latest bipartisan budget proposal tanked.

Representatives Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, and Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee, introduced a bipartisan budget alternative based on the Simpson-Bowles commission’s deficit reduction plan. It would have cut the multi-year deficit more than $4 trillion over 10 years, balanced the budget, avoided harsh budget sequestrations next January, and begun paying down our huge national debt. Two-thirds of the plan came from spending cuts; one-third from revenue generated by tax reforms…..

The sad truth is the Simpson-Bowles commission pointed out the way to budget responsibility back in December of 2010. Since then the President and Democrats and Republicans in Congress have chosen to spit and hiss over budget issues rather than act for the benefit of the nation. This makes for lively politics, but lousy governance.

Grand Forks Herald

Stop the presses – a bipartisan budget

OUR OPINION: Stop the presses -- a bipartisan budget Sooner or later, congressmen will tire of spinning their wheels with extremist budget proposals that get absolutely nowhere. They’ll look for an alternative and will find the one that continues to gain significant support, even after a more than a year: the Simpson-Bowles budget plan.

Sentinel & Enterprise

Budget charade

How serious is the U.S. House of Representatives about deficit reduction? On the evidence, not very.

The fact that a plausible, passable, bipartisan plan to bring the deficit under control was defeated in the House this week 382-38 should tell you something.

For those looking for some faint, very faint, glimmer that the lawmakers will get their act together, it was not, like most of these affairs, a straight party-line vote: 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted for it.

Anniston Star

Congress’ unreality: A mixed plan of cuts, tax increases finds few friends

On Wednesday evening, Congress had a chance to vote on the policy corrections listed above. The source for the bill was the president’s own bipartisan debt-reduction commission, led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. The commission’s proposals were orphaned at birth. President Barack Obama has kept an arm’s-length relationship with the Simpson-Bowles fixes. Most congressional Republicans won’t go near anything with even the mention of tax increases.

While far from perfect, Simpson-Bowles forthrightly faces reality, noting that repairing the nation will require a mixed plan of spending cuts, tax increases and adjustments to social programs. The House crushed a version of Simpson-Bowles Wednesday night, with 38 members supporting it to 382 opposing it. The unreality rolls on.

Anniston Star

Al Lewis - MarketWatch

Erskine Bowles still fighting debt

I’m wondering how many trillions of dollars we’ll add to the nation’s debt before anybody listens to Democrat Erskine Bowles and his com padre former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson.

So far, since launching the Simpson-Bowles plan in December 2010, we’ve added $3 trillion.

Our latest brush against the debt ceiling now has Republicans and Democrats in Congress kicking the proverbial can down the road. This week, they agreed to deal with it … later.


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Apr 3, 2012
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"When the two parties get serious about compromise and getting something done that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, they will turn to something substantive that is very similar to what we have proposed. There just aren't that many other viable options."