After fully studying the deficit reduction proposal put forward by Catfood Commission co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles (PDF), I realized that I could write a 55-world proposal that would do a substantially better job of reducing the federal debt. I’m calling the “Super Awesome Deficit Plan” and here it is:
Starting in 2016, to be in effect until the debt is gone: I recommend requiring both the President and Congress to make recommendations whenever average cost growth has exceeded GDP minus 0.2 percent over the prior five years. To the extent health costs are projected to grow significantly faster than that pace, I recommend the consideration of structural reforms to the health care system.
That is it. My Super Awesome Plan would make no other changes to our government.
My Super Awesome Plan would fully “eliminate” the deficit and debt. It would do it by telling the future President and Congress in 2016 that they need to figure some way to bring down health care costs if they grow faster than GDP minus 0.2%. It “works” because health care costs are exclusively the source of our long term deficit.
I fix the deficit by telling people in the future they need to fix it. It is so simple! I even put together a chart roughly showing how way more effective my plan is than the Simpson-Bowles Commission proposal:
That is amazing! My Super Magical Deficit Plan performs way better and is a lot shorter. What fool would even consider Simpson’s and Bowles’ worse plan?
Now you may think I’m cheating. You might argue that my plan is not really a solution because all it does is claim that in the future magically someone else will figure out the politically tough fix. You might think it is tantamount to claiming you are rich because you promise yourself in ten year you will convince someone to give you $10 million. That all may be true, but what my Super Awesome Plan is doing is absolutely no different than what the Simpson-Bowles plan does.
My proposal was lifted straight from their report. I just changed a handful of words, modifying the size of their global health care cap and moved the start date up from 2020 to 2016.
If “serious people” are going to treat the Catfood Commission proposal as a serious attempt to bring down the long-term deficit then there is no logical reason they shouldn’t treat my “Super Awesome Magical Deficit Plan” with any less reverence. Their proposal only begins to perform much better than the current law baseline, or the alternative scenario, after 2020 because they are using the same health care cost reduction magic of making it some future group of suckers’ problem while they take the credit.
Simply commanding that people ten years in the future figure out something to reduce health care spending might not sound like an actual solution to you, but in Washington, among the “serious” people, it is in fact held up as a great triumph.