Winston Churchill Blogs About November 13, 1940
Why Do I Feel So Much Better After a Transcontinental or Transoceanic Airplane Flight When I Have Been Sitting Up in the Front of the Plane?

Ryan Avent vs. Kevin Drum

Ryan Avent attempts to Kevin Drum smackdown:

Budget deficits: Austerity and reform: KEVIN DRUM critiques the recommendations of the chairmen of the deficit commission.... I don't think this holds water.... [O]ne good way to approach the deficit in a fashion that's relatively agnostic about the role of government is to reform the tax system to make it more efficient.... Now, the chairmen have left themselves open to criticism... they failed to include some obvious potential improvements in the efficiency of the tax code, like adoption of a carbon tax... they used much of the gains from their tax system reforms to cut rates. Mr Drum is right to say that a deficit commission should primarily be interested in applying whatever savings it finds to reduction of the deficit....

But the principle that tax reform is a healthy part of deficit reduction is a sound one...

I score this for Kevin Drum, 15-0. Tax reform is not deficit reduction. Tax reform is tax reform. Deficit reduction is deficit reduction. To put on the table an option for making the distribution of income worse by cutting the EITC and using the revenue raised to fund a reduction in high-income tax rates without putting on the table equivalent options for making the distribution of income better--well, Simpson and Bowles just did not do their job, and attempts to defend them are unconvincing.

Paul Krugman on Simpson-Bowles:

The Soft Bigotry of Low Deficit Commission Expectations: those who are defending the deficit commission on the grounds that there are some potentially good ideas in there are missing what the purpose of the commission was supposed to be.... [T]he commission... was supposed to produce a package that Congress would give an up and down vote. To do this... it would have to produce a package good enough to accept as is. And it didn’t do that.

Instead, it produced a package that may have had some good things in it, but also, remarkably, introduced a whole slew of new bad ideas that weren’t even in the debate before. A 21 percent of GDP limit on revenues? Cutting the top marginal rate to 23 percent? Sharp reductions in the government work force without, as far as anyone can tell, a commensurate reduction in the work to be done? Instead of cutting through the fog, the commission brought out an extra smoke machine....

[T]he commission was supposed to provide a finishing point for discussion. Instead, it produced a PowerPoint that is one part stuff that has long been on the table, one part conservative wish-list, and one part just weirdly ill-considered.