Over the last year, Republicans in Congress have criticized President Obama and Senate Democrats for ignoring the budget ideals reached by former Sens. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles that cut spending, reformed entitlements, and raised tax revenues. Now that Senate Democrats have introduced a budget that reaches top-line numbers similar to those in Simpson-Bowles, however, Republicans are still claiming that it raises too much revenue.
In fact, the Senate Democratic budget cuts spending to 21.8 percent of GDP, the same level reached by Simpson and Bowles. But it also raises revenue to just 19.4 percent of GDP, much less than the Simpson-Bowles plan, as Center for American Progress Tax and Budget Policy Director Michael Linden shows in this chart:
That’s not to say Simpson-Bowles is the ideal budget the American economy needs or that the Senate Democratic budget is perfect or complete. It still has details to fill in, most notably on tax reform. But even though the budget cuts domestic discretionary spending, it doesn’t immediately slash spending to levels that the American government hasn’t seen in more than half a century, as Ryan’s does. And unlike Simpson-Bowles, it protects entitlement programs from drastic changes and includes a modest amount of funding for stimulus measures to help boost the economic recovery.
But for all the wrangling about compromise in Washington, particularly among media types, it’s clear that while Ryan produced a budget based on Republican fantasies, Senate Democrats chose a plan that is in line with the top-line numbers contained in other moderate, bipartisan proposals.