John Boehner says the Gang of Six deficit plan is like the deal he walked away from with President Obama, but worse:
Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office said Tuesday that a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan from the Senate's Gang of Six appears to fall short of goals set by House Republicans.
"This plan shares many similarities with the framework the Speaker discussed with the president, but also appears to fall short in some important areas. The House is voting today on our 'cut, cap, and balance' plan, and we hope the Senate will take it up soon. That remains our focus,” a Boehner spokesman said.
One difference is that the Gang of Six plan raises more revenue. As Robert Greenstein explains, that's because the Gang of Six started from a baseline level of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000 a year expiring, and the Obama-Boehner deal didn't:
The Gang of Six plan calls for $1 trillion in higher revenues over ten years. But the magnitude of any revenue increase or decrease depends on the baseline against which the change in revenues is measured.
The Gang of Six used the same revenue baseline concept as the Bowles-Simpson commission (and as President Obama’s 2012 budget and his April budget framework). This is the so-called “plausible” baseline, which assumes the President and Congress make permanent the Bush tax cuts for people with incomes under $250,000, while letting the tax cuts for people over $250,000 expire on schedule at the end of 2012.
One trillion dollars in added revenue over the “plausible baseline” is very different from $1 trillion in added revenue relative to a baseline that assumes all of the Bush tax cuts become permanent — including those for people who make over $250,000 a year. The $1 trillion in revenues in the $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan that Speaker Boehner walked away from used this lower revenue baseline. Thus, the $1 trillion in revenue increases in that plan would not produce the same overall level of revenue as the $1 trillion in the Gang of Six plan. Measured against the same baseline as the Gang of Six, Bowles-Simpson, and Obama budget, the failed $4 trillion plan would generate only about $300 billion in added revenue (because $700 billion in “savings” from letting the upper-income tax cuts expire was already in the baseline).
Conclusions? Obama negotiated a really crappy deal with Boehner, but Republicans, thankfully, still refused to take it. They're not going to take this deal, either.
Update: I'd walk that conclusion back just a tad. The House Republican reaction to the Gang of Six is far less negative than I supposed, though it's not exactly positive. That's strange given that the Gang of Six plan has much higher tax levels. My initial assumption was that they'd never accept a substantively more liberal plan after overwhelmingly rejecting Obama's offer. But maybe substance isn't the point -- they were never going to trust anything offered by Obama, but a plan branded as bipartisan might be another story. We'll see.