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Tell Sen Bennett!

June 5, 2011

Friday afternoon, Sen Bennett sent out a newsletter seeking ideas about reducing the deficit. The links in the newsletter don’t work, but there is a link to go here and answer the two questions online.

You get to pick one choice of a reduction plan:

  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan
  • A comprehensive plan (spending cuts, changes to entitlements, tax reform) based on the President’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission
  • President Obama’s deficit reduction framework
  • Other
  • No Action

There are embedded links to the three plans. None is sufficient. If you really want to see what’s needed, visit the Cato Institute’s Downsizing Government site. I’m not going to tell you which one to pick but I’m going to bet you’re going to pick something the senator doesn’t expect.

The second question is an “all that apply” kind of question.

What components would you like to see in a debt reduction plan? (Choose all that apply.)

  • Bipartisan
  • Cuts in discretionary spending (not including defense spending)
  • Cuts in discretionary spending that include defense cuts
  • Reforms of entitlement programs such as Medicare
  • Tax reform
  • A comprehensive plan that includes cuts in discretionary spending, entitlement reforms, and tax reforms
  • Other
  • No debt reduction plan is necessary

This is an interesting list. The Democrats lay great stress on legislation being “bipartisan.” This didn’t seem important to them when they controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress so one suspects their motives now. Obviously, any deficit reduction before January  2013 will have to be bipartisan. Their track record indicates that it means compromise–and not in a good way but rather closing the deficit by less than we would like.

The next four all seem to roll up into the fifth and those–like me–who favor cutting everywhere might be tempted to check pretty much everything. As one who designs survey questions, I wonder why this was an “all that apply” type question when all the combinations can be had by checking just one box. The exception, of course, is the “bipartisan” red herring, which is not about what to cut at all but rather something about how the decision should be reached.

Tax reform by itself is quite misleading: to free market adherents like me it means tax reduction and simplification; to Sen Bennett I think it means closing off tax exemptions for people or groups not politically aligned with him or actual tax increases.

Answer carefully but let the senator know what you think. It will be interesting to see whether he releases the results.

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