Felix Salmon isn't too impressed:
The big picture is in this chart the proposal gets most of its juice after 2020. Which just happens to be the point at which growth in health-care costs automagically is brought down to GDP + 1% “by establishing a process to regularly evaluate cost growth, and take additional steps as needed if projected savings do not materialize”. But healthcare inflation is a gruesomely difficult nut to crack, and if the CBO simply assumed that it could be solved so easily in 2020, its projections would look much rosier too.
... [B]old ideas in terms of new taxes carbon taxes, wealth taxes, Tobin taxes, consumption taxes, you name it are nowhere to be seen: as Jonathan Chait says, this is “a plan that’s tilted, overwhelmingly, toward Republican priorities”.
But Howard Gleckman is thrilled:
[M]y favorite idea is zero-based tax reform. Start by eliminating all tax expenditures and sharply lowering rates to 8, 14, and 23 percent. Then, force Congress to raise rates should it choose to restore specific targeted tax subsidies. This strategy, in some respects, echoes the experience of the 1986 tax reform.
To be candid, this proposal is so provocative it almost seems as if Bowles and Simpson realize they have no chance of building consensus on their own commission. As a result, they may have decided to take their best shot now rather than watch their plan get nibbled to death. If so, it may not have been a bad idea. The fiscal panel may fade away in shame, but I have a feeling this plan may live on.