‘Fiscal cliff’: Democrats and entitlements, Endless Cliff Hypothesis and more

New at Think Tanked – Open for Discussion! Four experts debate: Do Democrats have a plan for cutting entitlements? Debate on the “fiscal cliff” has thus far focused on raising tax rates for the wealthy, the immediate issue dividing Republicans and Democrats. However, Republicans have long insisted that reforming Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlements must be a part of the equation for avoiding the year-end “fiscal cliff.” Democrats have offered few details on what entitlements they would cut in an overall budget package. What should a Democratic entitlement reform plan look like? (Washington Post

J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated Press)

‘Fiscal cliff’ deal needs spending cuts: “Though the Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years, the House has passed one. It cuts $5 trillion over the next 10 years and reduces outlays to 20 percent of GDP by 2015. The House proposes cuts to food stamps and farm programs, as well as the sale of some federal assets and a merger of America’s 49 job training programs,” writes Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott Roth. (Washington Examiner)

Room for Debate asks: Obama has said that on taxes, he is open to new ideas, as long as the proponents “make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit.” (He said Tuesday that he would rather raise rates on the top 2 percent.) Many Republicans go further, resisting any additional revenue, from any source. So the politics are simple: neither side wants higher taxes on the majority of taxpayers. But does the math work? Can policy makers make a dent in the deficit without raising middle-class tax rates, ending tax breaks that benefit the middle class, or cutting programs that average Americans depend on? (New York Times)

A good deal will raise tax rates, fix entitlements: “Although it isn’t yet time to panic about the fiscal cliff, negotiations so far aren’t exactly going well. The Republicans are committing themselves to an unsustainable principle of no marginal tax-rate increases whatsoever. And the Democrats are failing to seize the moment to make progressive reforms to Medicare and Social Security, writes CFR’s Peter Orszag. (Bloomberg)

‘Fiscal cliff’ forever? “Don’t tell the kids yet, but there’s a chance we’re about to enter a political twilight zone previously deemed by science (or at least punditry) to be nothing more than a theoretical possibility. Call it the Endless Cliff Hypothesis. ECH holds that under certain rare circumstances in a democracy, it’s possible to reach a perfectly dysfunctional political equilibrium that thereafter perpetuates itself. It’s the political equivalent of the grim equilibrium Keynes famously described, in which an economy becomes stuck in a state of depressed demand and high unemployment which can nonetheless continue indefinitely unless external forces intervene,” writes CAP’s Matt Miller. (Washington Post)

CFR’s Amity Shlaes: Obama’s sanctimony proves who the real Scrooge is. (Bloomberg)

Two of a Kind: “[W]hat both sides seem to concede is that government will in the future be spending a lot more money than it is today. Whether it gets that money through debt or taxes is only one small part of the problem. Both options take resources from the productive sector and transfer them to government, and as a result, we can expect to be far poorer as a nation in the future. That is a much more important issue to debate than tax pledges,” writes Cato’s Michael Tanner. (National Review)

Politico’s Arena asks: Fiscal cliff negotiations appear to be at a stalemate. Conversations even ceased between aides to President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner yesterday. Who do you think will be the first to fold and why?

AEI’s Jonah Goldberg: Let the taxi app roll. (National Review)

Police groups vie for mandatory collection of all private text messages. (ThinkProgress)