In the midst of an increasingly polarized deficit fight, Sen. Tom Coburn may have achieved the impossible by bringing liberals and conservatives together in opposition to his disastrous $9 trillion deficit reduction plan.
The first major problem with the plan: it calls for $1 trillion in defense cuts during the next decade. That’s further than even Sen. Kent Conrad dared to go in his widely-criticized proposal, which reportedly included $900 billion in defense reductions during the same time period. And it’s far more radical than Obama’s own recommendation to slash the defense budget by $400 billion.
It seems for whatever reason, some conservatives believe defense spending should be sacrificed as a sort of goodwill gesture, in order to persuade liberals to make concessions on entitlements. But in reality, proposals like Coburn’s only end up encouraging American-declinists to seek bolder defense cuts. Military spending is not the reason why we’re in a fiscal crisis. Getting rid of wasteful spending in the defense budget is one thing, but strangling it with cuts will endanger our troops and dangerously diminish America’s standing in the world.
The portion of Coburn’s plan that conservatives can embrace – reducing the cost of Medicare and Medicaid by $2.6 trillion during the next decade – is also something that will get it automatically shot down by progressives.
But despite the cuts to defense and Medicare, this is a plan even fiscal hawks like Grover Norquist don’t want to get behind. This is because Coburn is proposing $1 trillion in tax hikes, thereby ensuring this is one plan that will make nobody happy.
According to The Hill, Coburn says the plan is something people “can pick and choose from.” Picking and choosing isn’t the hard part, though – it’s getting both sides to agree to concessions they may not be thrilled to make. Coburn’s proposals will likely be unacceptable to most of the people involved in the debate, which basically renders his entire plan meaningless.