More than a year has passed since the ambitious Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan went down in flames.
In December of 2010, the plan fell short of the 14 votes required for the commission to present its recommendations to Congress for a legislative vote. Much lip service was paid to the "seriousness" of the plan. But most members of Congress gave it no serious consideration. Ditto for the White House.
Now Simpson-Bowles is back.
Talk about the proposal, which provided lawmakers a comprehensive framework for how to tackle expanding deficits, has refused to die down. Compromise-minded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle openly pine for it. Clint Eastwood even endorsed it.
Led by Reps. Jim Cooper and Steven LaTourette, a bipartisan coalition is now preparing to introduce a budget amendment based on the panel's recommendations that would cut deficits by $4 trillion over ten years by slashing spending and raising taxes. LaTourette, a Republican, said he has grown tired of passing bills out of the House only to see them die in the Senate, and "pretending that counts as success."
"Americans want us to work together like adults, pass a budget with bipartisan support in both Houses and have it signed into law," LaTourette said in a statement. "A partisan budget is not the way to go, and the budget modeled after Simpson-Bowles is the only vehicle to get us there."
Of course, this version has basically zero chance of becoming law. Congress is busy tying itself in knots over the budget for next year, and the atmosphere on Capitol Hill is as partisan as ever. Lawmakers are not expected to pass any substantial legislation until after the November elections.
But it will be interesting to see how many votes Simpson-Bowles gets. Most Republicans in the House have pledged to never vote for a tax increase -- a promise that would be broken by a "yes" vote.
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