The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

McConnell says Obama wants more revenue than Bowles-Simpson. It’s not so.

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Thursday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed that Obama's opening bid of $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years is a "joke" and more than any deficit commission recommends.

As Sarah Ayres and Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress explain, this, while a common misperception, is false. Simpson-Bowles is sometimes said to include $1.2 trillion in revenue increases over 10 years. That, however, is relative to a "current law" baseline where all the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, and the Alternative Minimum Tax is not patched.

Relative to "current policy," or the tax code currently in effect, Simpson-Bowles raises $2.7 trillion to Obama's $1.6 trillion.

The same deal works with Domenici-Rivlin, the other major deficit-reduction plan. Between 2012 and 2020 — nine years, rather than the conventional 10-year period — that plan would have raised $1.873 trillion from cutting tax breaks and $435 billion in additional new revenue, for a total of about $2.3 trillion. That's not only more than Obama has proposed, but it's spread over a shorter time frame.

McConnell's remark is a reminder that, contrary to popular belief, Obama is staking out a position on taxes that, if anything, is more timid than that of the bipartisan debt commissions. They want revenue increases far in excess of anything the administration has proposed.