Matt Miller on the Progressive Caucus Budget


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

There is only one serious budget proposal on the table, and it is the one the Beltway media villagers will ignore because it comes from the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party (this is because the Beltway media villagers are all in the top 2% of income earners and their favorite cocktail party circuit guest, Rep. Paul Ryan, has promised them a tax windfall). At least some in the Beltway media who are truly "serious" are paying attention.

The Washington Post's Matt Miller writes, Lessons from the budget bake-off:

The most interesting development is on the “left.” I know I’m a broken record, but it can never be said often enough that Ronald Reagan ran government at 22 percent of GDP. This means the long-run spending goal of a caucus seen in Washington as impossibly liberal is just a penny on the national dollar higher than that of a conservative hero. Who knew how close the Gipper was to Karl Marx? (Don’t forget, the man was a union president earlier in his career…)

A word of advice to the progressive caucus: Lead with that Reagan talking point and you’ll open Washington’s mind.

To be sure, the progressives also call for massive new infrastructure spending and a public-sector jobs program over the next few years, which would boost spending past 26 percent of GDP before it falls back. But officials in both parties (and anyone who travels abroad) knows our infrastructure needs serious work, and we have a huge jobs gap, and interest rates are at record lows. A pragmatic government trying to kill a few birds with one smart stone would do what progressives urge.

The progressive budget is also the only one honest and gutsy enough to ask the middle class to pay more in taxes as America ages, via a carbon tax that would raise prices at the pump (only a quarter of whose revenue would be rebated to hold low earners harmless). It adds a tiny financial transactions tax that would soon throw off $100 billion a year. It ends the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000, which President Obama mistakenly failed to do. And its call for new higher marginal rates for earnings above $1 million and $10 million matches what JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said made sense in New York magazine last year.

(More advice to progressives: Call these rates the Dimon Plan).

By mostly paying for the extra 4 percentage points of GDP they want to spend a decade out – $600 billion a year in today’s dollars — the progressives would put millions of Americans back to work, make health coverage nearly universal, cut poverty in half, invest in research and development and higher-caliber teachers and more. I’ve detailed elsewhere how crazy it is for Republicans to pretend we can shrink government below Reagan-era levels given our aging population. The progressive plan isn’t perfect, but it’s serious.

But now consider this. We actually need to push spending toward 28 percent of GDP – because we need to break the archaic link between employment and health coverage, which means moving those costs off business payrolls and onto government budgets (perhaps via vouchers that help people buy guaranteed coverage in the new Obamacare exchanges).

Is this desire to get employers out of health care (to boost business competitiveness and health security) a radical idea – or simply common sense?

The rest of Miller's piece is about his own theories on taxation and spending which no one is seriously proposing, as he readily concedes: "such an 'ideologically androgynous' package can’t find expression in today’s budget bake-off given the interest groups and litmus tests of our political parties."