The media has been abuzz with a spree of high-level Republicans rebuking Washington lobbyist Grover Norquist's tax pledge in recent days. What has not been explained is why they are breaking with this pledge.
In exchange, they are basically offering Mitt Romney's tax plan of closing some minor deductions and loopholes (some of which are widely used by the middle class). Here is how The Maddow Blog's Steve Benen explains Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) latest offer:
In other words, Graham -- being singled out for praise today for being so "reasonable" -- would demand that Bush-era tax rates be left in place for everyone, including the very wealthy, but he'd consider a cap on deductions. As a practical matter, his "concession" is being open to adopting Romney's revenue proposal.
Needless to say, Americans rejected Romney's tax plan when they rejected Romney. Additionally, we just commissioned a poll in New Hampshire that found that "clear majority" of people in the state "oppose making significant changes to benefits given to seniors who receive Social Security or Medicare. Sixty-six percent supported raising taxes for those earning more than $250,000 a year, with 29 percent opposed to it."
Whether Norquist likes the plan or not, it is certainly not worth trading for significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Seniors on Medicare and Social Security did not cause the Great Recession, Wall Street did. And they should not be asked to pay for the resulting debt.
We should look instead to Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren for a credible approach to dealing with the deficit over the long term.
Warren has an alternative, truly "balanced approach" to tackling the deficit. During a campaign debate last month, she laid out a popular vision for dealing with the deficit: cut back on wasteful military and agriculture subsidy spending, and make the rich pay their fair share with higher tax rates. Watch Warren explain: