Senator Saxby Chambliss wants to take another run at dealing with the debt problem.
Democrats are wary of any serious changes to Medicare, the seniors’ health care entitlement program. The outline put forth last year by the Gang of Six mostly left Medicare reforms to Senate committees, with the goal of limiting yearly federal health spending growth to 1 percent more than the gross domestic product.
The Gang of Six has proposed a tax overhaul that reduces income tax rates but eliminates many deductions, aiming for $1 trillion in extra revenue. Republicans have resisted any increase in tax revenue, and nearly all Republicans in Congress have signed a no-new-taxes pledge put forth by Washington activist Grover Norquist.
Because Republicans held firm against revenue increases in the debt ceiling deal last year, Norquist said, they have no incentive to do so now, ahead of the fall elections.
“These jokers have not even written down in legislative form Simpson-Bowles yet, but now we’re going to get serious about it? How about writing it down if it’s a good idea?” said Norquist, who considers Simpson-Bowles to be a $5 trillion tax hike. He added, “It’s because it’s not written down that everybody can sort of see what they want to in it.”
Aside from the unresolved details, Chambliss said the group is reluctant to produce a bill now because it would be politically toxic in election season. The group plans to have a framework in place for the lame-duck congressional session in November and December.
Something has to be done. Is Chambliss’ approach the right one?