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What Was Actually in Bowles-Simpson?


We’ve issued a new report that reviews the 2010 Bowles-Simpson budget proposal, which policymakers often cite in the debate over how to reduce long-term deficits.  Here’s the opening:

Many policymakers have said that they “support,” “endorse,” or otherwise look favorably on “Bowles-Simpson” — the budget plan that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson issued in December 2010 as co-chairs of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  But despite this apparent widespread support, many policymakers and opinion leaders do not understand the specifics of what Bowles-Simpson actually included.  For instance, a bipartisan budget plan offered in the House this spring claimed the Bowles-Simpson moniker.  Yet that plan departed very substantially from Bowles-Simpson in key respects.

In anticipation of a renewed focus on Bowles-Simpson in the months ahead, policymakers and opinion leaders in the budget debate need to have a solid grasp of what the plan actually proposed.  This is particularly the case if Bowles-Simpson is held up as a budgetary benchmark for assessing other proposals.  How much deficit reduction did Bowles-Simpson actually entail, how much would it raise revenues, and what ratio of revenue raisers to program cuts did it encompass?


Click here for the full report.