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The Simpson-Bowles Trifecta

Now that three Democrats of consequence have announced it, the inevitability of Purina Cat Chow’s inclusion on the USDA food pyramid is near certain.

Nancy Pelosi had announced a few weeks ago that she’d back Simpson-Bowles.  Two days ago Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told Andrea Mitchell that Obama’s going to use Simpson-Bowles as the template for budget talks. And last night, Bill Clinton said:

Now, what has the president done? He has offered a reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade, with $2.5 trillion coming from — for every $2.5 trillion in spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues, 2.5 to 1. And he has tight controls on future spending. That’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission, a bipartisan commission.  Now, I think this plan is way better than Governor Romney’s plan.

Those are the choices?

There should be tax hikes on corporatio­ns and the rich. There should be massive cuts to the military. Banks should be threatened with nationaliz­ation unless they begin lending to small businesses­. There have been more than 3.5 million home foreclosur­es but there are 11 million more in the pipeline — There must be principal write-down­s.  Democratic politician­s should be beating this drum, loudly, constantly, and pushing the People’s Budget instead of working off of a set of corporate lobbyists’ plans.

When I think of how Bill Clinton could have used his cache’ to make up for the damage that the Democratic base suffered as a result of his policies and peccadillos, by using that bully pulpit in prime time last night to explain how different times call for different fiscal policies.  And in this, the worst economy since the Great Depression, left to him by Republicans, a government must spend and spend big.  As only a government can.  Clinton could have made any number of excuses for Obama’s failing to have done that in his first term, rousing voters to usher Obama and Democrats into a majority in the House, a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, with a mandate to implement whatever regulations are necessary, spend whatever it takes to fix this damned ship and put the 99% back on our feet.

Why didn’t Clinton use that bully pulpit last night to talk about the Progressiv­e Caucus’s budget and plan to balance the budget if he and Obama are concerned about the American people and the deficit and are seeking a “balanced approach”?  It reduces the deficit by $5.1 trillion, beating both Obama’s and the Republican­s’ plans.

As Krugman has said, the Progressiv­es’ budget:

“balances the budget through higher taxes and defense cuts, plus some tougher bargaining by Medicare (and a public option to reduce the costs of the Affordable Care Act). The proposed tax hikes would fall on higher incomes, raising the cap on payroll taxes (takes care of Social Security’s solvency forever)..­. and unlike the Ryan plan, it actually makes sense.”

Explaining this spring how he would manage to enact his agenda in a second term, Obama was still looking forward to sitting down and cutting deals. This time, he said, Republicans would be nicer because he’s not running for re-election.
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