E. D. Kahn: Simplifying the tax code, while reducing overall income tax rates makes sense. Lowering income-tax rates would not only be good in terms of stimulus, it would be good for the American economy years into the future. Meanwhile, wiping out all the pernicious deductions and loopholes would make the tax system more fair and efficient, and would make up for lost revenue from lower rates. The mortgage-rate tax deduction would go, creating a level playing field for home-owners and renters. For those of us who mourned the short life and death of Wyden/Bennett, the removal of the employer tax exemption for health insurance is most welcome.
San Collender: Bowles-Simpson seems to have been put together backwards. Instead of starting with a plan about what the federal government should no longer do and then determining the savings from the smaller number of employees that would be needed to do what's left to be done, with limited exceptions the plan focuses on the reduced workforce but makes few assumptions, suggestions, or recommendations about what services the government should no longer provide. The assumptions it does make don't appear to justify the cuts in the number of employees and contractors.
The type of proposals that are needed are whether the government should no longer be involved in education. Should it stop prosecuting and jailing as many criminals and should the sentences be shorter for those it convicts? Should it fund less or no research on cancer and similar diseases? Should the FBI no longer investigate white collar crime? Should the military not be prepared to conduct as many operations? Should veterans health care be eliminated?
Mark Kleiman: Why didn't Simpson and Bowles propose legalizing and taxing cannabis? That's $5-$10 billion a year.
CRFB: (a fairly detailed walk-through of the tax proposals).
Charles Blahous: The Simpson-Bowles proposal was clearly designed to pre-empt some of the attacks made on the commission. They make a point, for example, of saying that Social Security must be balanced for its own sake and is not being asked to contribute positively to the balance of the unified federal budget. The commission’s critics would do well to show equal concern for Social Security’s sound financing by offering their own alternatives for sustaining the program.