BUZ LIVINGSTON: Simpson-Bowles CliffsNotes version

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 04:09 PM.

Next Thursday night Forest Williams and Bryan Kennedy will be picking at the Backyard Boogie on Chat Holly Road. I want to warn all the pretty girls to take a step back. Suzanna James Lucas will make her Walton County debut. Ole Miss, home of pretty coeds, has already accepted our adorable grandbaby.

Occasionally you see a baby so ugly they’re cute, and that sums up the much-ballyhooed Simpson-Bowles proposal.

Until Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech, most Americans couldn’t tell Simpson-Bowles from salad bowls so here’s the CliffsNotes version. Simpson-Bowles proposed radically altering the U.S. Tax Code and, when combined with broad spending cuts, it would lead to a sustainable budget deficit. In a way, Simpson-Bowles, like previously mentioned ugly baby, was a little cute. 

Simpson-Bowles found itself waylaid on the way to Congress. The Simpson-Bowles super-committee consisted of six Republicans, six Democrats and six policy wonks of various political persuasions.

Rules required a 14-vote super-majority before Congress would vote up or down with no amendments.  Legend has it politics makes strange bedfellows, seven voted nay on passage, two liberal Democrats, one moderate, one union boss and three conservative Republicans. Paul Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles then later criticized President Obama for Simpson-Bowles not passing. George Orwell, you nailed that one. 

It wasn’t like Simpson-Bowles showed up like Moses with some inviolate rules — instead they proposed three different variants. Simpson-Bowles offered to eliminate tax expenditures except for the child credit and the earned income tax credit, eliminate the alternative minimum tax and the phase-outs of itemized deductions and personal exemptions, and replace the current six-bracket individual tax rate schedule with a three bracket schedule with rates of 9 percent, 15 percent, and 24 percent.

On the chopping block, in various forms, were home-mortgage interest deductions, employer sponsored health insurance and retirement savings preferences. Gasoline taxes would increase by 15 cents.  Preferential treatment for dividends and capital gains would also end.

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