Isakson: Revenue’s been dealt with, on to spending

The fiscal cliff is dead. Long live the fiscal cliff!

If you were unsatisfied with the deal struck last week or just miss the D.C. drama, fear not. We’ll be back at the abyss soon.

In March, the so-called sequester budget cuts stand to kick in; appropriations for federal operations will dry up; and the Treasury will run out of ways to pay the bills without raising the debt ceiling. As Congress faces that unholy trinity, Georgia’s Johnny Isakson will be right in the thick of things.

The second-term GOP senator was named Thursday to the Senate Finance Committee, which handles those big budgetary matters. Having to face those three pressures at once actually gives Isakson “some degree of optimism.”

“Because it is such a confluence of things, maybe we’ll get a macro deal instead of a micro deal,” Isakson said by phone Thursday.

Isakson has yet to attend his first meeting as a Finance member, but he knows where he wants the debate to go. “I think the revenue issue has been dealt with,” he said. “I know the president probably thinks there is some more revenue somewhere, but we’ve had the revenue debate. No one can say that wasn’t a thorough analysis of the revenue situation.”

Now it’s time to tackle spending, especially Social Security and Medicare.

“Most everyone [in the Senate] understands Social Security is the easiest to fix without harming current beneficiaries or beneficiaries in the reasonable future,” he said. Raising the eligibility age gradually over time is one way. Two others are making benefits less generous for high earners or tying benefit increases to changes in prices rather than wages.

Medicare, though, is “the big, big consumer of dollars,” Isakson said. It’s “the big gorilla” that’s “already running rampant.”

He prefers the “premium support” plan pitched by Rep. Paul Ryan and some Democrats. “That way you can gauge the cost [to taxpayers] and you engage the consumer more” in being cost-conscious than with today’s fee-for-service plan.

Whatever the specifics of a March deal, Isakson emphasized the need to let the legislative process work. He reported “universal frustration” among senators that last week’s deal was struck “by two people [Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden] in a back room.”

He noted the irony that last week, while those talks went on behind closed doors, the Senate engaged in a now-rare regular order of business, with debate on the floor and the opportunity for all senators to offer amendments.

“I think [regular order] would help the public to understand the difficulty of the problem, but also the mechanism of the solution,” he said.

Isakson prefers to work off the Simpson-Bowles proposal introduced in late 2010. That plan would reduce deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years by cutting spending and making the tax code simpler and flatter to generate more revenue.

He expressed great frustration with President Barack Obama, who commissioned the plan but whose own proposals, especially for taxes, contradict its methods: “I don’t know if he was afraid of it, or if he is so bent on spending and raising revenues, and so averse to fiscal accountability, that he didn’t want to bring it up.”

In any case, Isakson sees no good reason for Washington to break down into its own March madness. “All the solutions are on the table,” he said, “it’s just a matter of which ones you pick up and use.”

– By Kyle Wingfield

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191 comments Add your comment

Cutty

January 7th, 2013
6:04 am

Yeah ok. This from the same people who said they would never, under any circumstances, raise taxes just a week ago. Republicans have no leverage, no plan, and no principles.

HadIt

January 7th, 2013
6:35 am

I hope the spending side of the equation is dealt with. Isakson’s ideas sound reasonable. But this blackmail over the debt ceiling limit has to stop. Until now no political party or faction of a political party has tried to use this ability to destroy the economy as leverage to exact something they want. Politicians have used the vote as a means to grandstand when they knew their vote wouldn’t matter. Obama is guilty of that silliness and should apologize. But no one has seriously threatened to ruin the nation’s credit with all of its ensuing horrors until the tea party ideologues came to dominate the Republican party. The Conservatives should consider the ramifications if this ploy works. Don’t they realize that one day the liberals will use this weapon as well for an issue they consider just as critical?

Aynie Sue

January 7th, 2013
6:53 am

Isakson is a blithe fool to think there is an ounce of sincerity in the Republicans’ interest in spending cuts. Republicans are interested only in cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and pouring the savings into useless military programs and political pork. The American people have made clear, in votes and polls, that they will not tolerate this.

The best source of spending cuts is the military. We should not continue to fund cold war technology since we have no potential technologically-advanced enemies. The billion dollar aircraft carriers and half-billion dollar combat aircraft we are now funding will end up on the scrap heap without ever being deployed.

The next approach to spending cuts should be to reform the exorbitant cost of health care for all Americans, including Medicare and Medicaid patients. To do this will require a national health insurance program administered like Medicare Part B, with specific coverage schedules and low administrative overhead. It will require repeal of the Republican-sponsored law forbidding price negotiation for prescription drugs. No medical program should pay the cost of consumer advertizing of prescription drugs; the advertizing should be banned outright, as in all other countries, or negotiated out of prescription drug prices. And, finally, it will require putting financial pressure on medical providers to streamline their practices by consolidating offices, reducing paperwork, sharing staff and expensive medical equipment, and operating preposterously expensive diagnostic equipment like MRI and CT scanners for longer than a few hours a day.

The future shortfall of Social Security funding can be solved once and for all by removing the ceiling on SS tax liability and offering expanding benefits for high earners.

The potential for revenue increase from progressive taxation has not even been explored. Denying tax cuts for high-earners is farcical since they escape paying the legal tax rate through dozens of exemptions, deductions, and tax-dodging gimmicks like the notorious “carried interest” scam.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 7th, 2013
7:06 am

“I don’t know if he was afraid of it, or if he is so bent on spending and raising revenues, and so averse to fiscal accountability, that he didn’t want to bring it up.”

I’ll betcha he’s ready to talk about some new spending.

“I know the president probably thinks there is some more revenue somewhere, but we’ve had the revenue debate. No one can say that wasn’t a thorough analysis of the revenue situation.”

This^^ is so Orwellian it boggles the mind -

In business, revenue or turnover is income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers.

They can’t even call it what it is anymore – a tax.

Cherokee

January 7th, 2013
7:10 am

The Simpson Bowles proposal that Vice Presidential candidate Ryan voted against??

Yeah good luck with that Senator.

TiredOfIt

January 7th, 2013
7:34 am

Time to get rid of the DoD contracted moochers and the ones that must stay will receive a maximum pay of $20 per hour.

Ronnie Raygun

January 7th, 2013
7:36 am

Once again another GOPer courageously proposes to “fix the debt” by cutting the two public pension programs that have their own independent funding sources and haven’t added anything to the national debt.
Hey Johnny, how about cutting some of the billions in pork (farmer welfare, corporate welfare, defense contractor welfare) that caused the debt? Or flattening the tax code so that all income is taxes at the same rates? Why the obsession with hurting retirees?

Out by the Pond

January 7th, 2013
7:51 am

The Simson Bowles plan was never approved by the Simson Bowles committee due to lack of support by the republican members of the committee. Why do republicans now love Simpson Bowles?

rwcole

January 7th, 2013
7:51 am

“so averse to fiscal accountability” – from a GA Republican. Didn’t he vote to give away prescription drugs to everyone just a few years ago? Now, it’s a problem. Duh!! It just gets deeper and deeper in Kyle’s room.

Don't Tread

January 7th, 2013
7:51 am

I’m sure the next “cliff” will end up the same way as this one, because of course we don’t have a spending problem. :roll:

rwcole

January 7th, 2013
7:54 am

Kyle, if we had elected Romney, would Congress be giving away our treasure and telling us deficits don’t matter again? I just can’t figure out how this works.

david c

January 7th, 2013
7:59 am

Lynnie Gal

January 7th, 2013
8:00 am

You left out the obvious best fix for Social Security–raising the cap on who pays. The current cap is far too low–yearly wages of $100,000. If you make more, you don’t pay more into the system. A person making a million a year pays the same into Social Security as a person who makes $100,000 a year. That’s wrong. The cap should be at least $250,000. As far as spending goes, I’d be all for a reduction in spending on defense and the military. End the wars and bring every soldier home. Slash military spending. Leave other programs alone. That should fix things.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

January 7th, 2013
8:04 am

Actually Kyle, weren’t there cuts in “entitlement spending” when the republicans took office in 2010 and then again when they had the country by the “balls” during the time they held our credit rating hostage and demanded cuts or they wouldn’t raise the debt limit?

Seems to me the “game” is more 3/1 Republicans winning on “entitlement spending cuts” with the Dems/Pres. O only getting 1 instance of more revenue from the 1%.

Ronnie Raygun

January 7th, 2013
8:06 am

I also noticed that while Isakson claims we can’t afford such generous public pension benefits for all Americans, he doesn’t mention cutting the gold plated pensions ans healthcare for life that are gifted to Congressmen. Why is that Johnny?
At least the American public pays FICA taxes to fund their own Social Security and Medicare. You don’t pay anything for your taxpayer funded retirement.

BTW: While Social Security and Medicare haven’t contributed to the National Debt, Isakson’s fat pension benefits have definitely added to the debt. How about cutting the actual causes of the debt, like YOUR pension Johnny?

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

January 7th, 2013
8:07 am

One more comment, Isaakson expressed frustration? Why? Is it because they’re Number One Priority and ONLY priority was to make Obama a one term president and even THAT failed?

Perhaps if Isaakson, et al. would pledge allegiance to the United States Of America (instead of Grover Nordquist and the Republican Party), perhaps he’d feel like he was accomplishing something other than obstruction tactics.

Might be a start………..just saying……………..

carlosgvv

January 7th, 2013
8:24 am

“Now it’s time to tackle spending, especially Social Security and Medicare”.

Absolutely. Lets go after the poor and the middle class in every savage way we can.

But, we must NEVER really cut military spending, even though we spend more on this than any other nation on Earth.

After all, the Military-Industrial Complex is what keeps Republicans in campaign cash and Big Business cofers overflowing with profit.

curious

January 7th, 2013
8:24 am

Now that revenue has been settled (i doubt that), why not let the sequester cuts solve the spending problem?

After all, it was passed by both houses and signed by the President.

Thomas Heyward Jr

January 7th, 2013
8:25 am

Silly sheep,
Republocrats ALWAYS vow to reduce spending after raising taxes.
.
lol

Road Scholar

January 7th, 2013
8:30 am

“Raising the eligibility age gradually over time is one way. Two others are making benefits less generous for high earners or tying benefit increases to changes in prices rather than wages.”

No problem. People are living longer. I haven’t had a COLA “raise” from my retirement since 2006.

Medicare: Are the people abusing it or are the doctors???? Giving people tests when they are dying reaks of abuse. My mother had complained about her health, it was ignored until she went into the hospital for a minor surgery. They then found her gut eaten up with cancer and decided not to do the procedure. She died two days latter of a heart attack. Question: Why wasn’t she diagnosed earlier?

Spending cuts: Waste, military, and deductions need to be addressed immediately. What is the delay? Cut oil, food and other subsidies. Aren’t we suppose to be on the free market?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

January 7th, 2013
8:33 am

Not even a mention of defense spending? LOL

You Cons can’t get serious, can you?

Skip

January 7th, 2013
8:39 am

Educate me, how much does SS contribute to the debt or deficit?

Skip

January 7th, 2013
8:41 am

Do members of congress ever go on Medicare or do they remain on gov subsidized health care for life?

curious

January 7th, 2013
8:56 am

Why not take the spending cuts proposed by each party and meet halfway?

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 7th, 2013
9:19 am

I am glad some one is optimistic. With a petulant President and a wishy washy Senate, not willing to take a firm stand, it is left to the House to block the foolishness legislation that will be crafted by the Senate, at Barry’s bidding. God save America, we sure can’t depend on Johnny and his Senate buddies. If he thought the previous bill was so terrible, why didn’t he vote against it. That is his job!!

JF McNamara

January 7th, 2013
9:28 am

Being an African American man, I’m for linking when social security begins with average life expectancy. That’s fair. I’m going to work all my life, pay social security, die early and all that money will go to white men and women. No one ever brings that up.

East Cobb RINO, Inc (LLC)

January 7th, 2013
9:32 am

I am in favor of tackling the spending side. But all spending. That must include defense, not just entitlements.

Just Saying..

January 7th, 2013
9:40 am

Coming out of the Congressional session that passed less legislation than the “Do Nothing Congress”, the solution is to “…let the legislative process work”?

That sounds promising…

political arsonist

January 7th, 2013
9:44 am

another meaningless declaration by a meaningless southern gop poitician

MrLiberty

January 7th, 2013
9:48 am

It might shock Mr. Isakson to learn that the Constitution is very clear in NOT authorizing the government to run either the Ponzi scheme that is called Social Security, or the wealth-transfer program that is Medicare (and the equally horrible Prescription Drug plan passed of course by republicans and signed by a republican president).

Don’t expect any principled stands from Mr. Isakson as these debates progress. That is not what the republican or democratic parties are about anymore. It is all about pacifying the citizens with lies and deception, keeping the ruling elites on Wall Street and the Banking/Housing industry happy, and lining the pockets of the military/industrial/surveillance/prison complex CEOs. In this role, Johnny and his partner in crime Mr. Chambliss have excelled and will continue to do as told.

The real cliff we will face will be a dollar crisis in which nobody wants to purchase our debt except the Federal Reserve, and the massive printing of dollars ultimately causes the value of the dollar to collapse. It has happened to every fiat currency in history and America, despite claims of our “exceptionalism” will not be immune. The citizens of GA are not being represented by this clown, but the special interests certainly are.

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
9:59 am

HadIt @ 6:35 am

“Obama is guilty of that silliness and should apologize.”

He has apologized.

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
10:04 am

Isakson : “I think the revenue issue has been dealt with,” he said. “I know the president probably thinks there is some more revenue somewhere, but we’ve had the revenue debate. No one can say that wasn’t a thorough analysis of the revenue situation.”

Isakson mistakes a debate for resolution of the issue. The fact that there has been a debate, and an analysis of the revenue situation, does not mean that more action is not required.

Jefferson

January 7th, 2013
10:08 am

People don’t retire at 62 or 65 because they are going to die, they can’t do jobs as fast or effective. Longer lives just means longer lives, no reason to think you should have to work longer. The answer to longer lifespans in higher rates, if you live longer you will need to pay in more. Fund the system, truth is business don’t want to pay to start with.

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
10:18 am

Isakson “expressed great frustration with President Barack Obama, who commissioned the plan but whose own proposals, especially for taxes, contradict its methods.”

Apart from the already mentioned opposition of Republicans to the Simpson-Bowles proposal, Isakson again repeats to common but ridiculous criticism of the President for creating the commission but not adopting all it’s recommendations. Does Isakson believe that the President must adopt whatever any commission he created had recommended? Why would we need a President – we could be governed by commissions.

Kyle Wingfield

January 7th, 2013
10:19 am

We will be having limited moderation — you might call it modified moderation — during most daytime hours. Most of you will have no problems, as long as you don’t try to get cute and post with multiple personalities. And then we’ll have full moderation the rest of the time. This should help with our little troll problem as well as with some of the worst commenting excesses by others.

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
10:23 am

“The real cliff we will face will be a dollar crisis in which nobody wants to purchase our debt except the Federal Reserve, and the massive printing of dollars ultimately causes the value of the dollar to collapse.”

Haven’t we heard this too many times already? The US was even “downgraded,” and what was the result: More money from lenders pouring in even at almost zero (an even negative considering inflation) interests, and inflation remaining low.

breckenridge

January 7th, 2013
10:24 am

Social security and Medicare reform do need to happen. Yet Johnny conveniently neglected to mention the bloated pig that is defense spending. Not surprising, since there are still millions of intellectually challenged Americans who subscribe to the “better to fight them there than here” mantra. And a member of Congress simply can’t be seen as being soft on defense.

And who are the “them” they’re really talking about? Not Iraq. Not Iran. No, all the terrorist and money for terrorism come from our good “friend” Saudi Arabia. So if we’re serious about taking “them” on it follows that we should hear the pounding of drums to wipe out the bunch of thieves that are Saudi royal family. Except it’s much more convenient to find scapegoats.

Pizzaman

January 7th, 2013
10:24 am

MrLiberty @ 9:48: Just because Rush and Neil call SS a Ponzi doesn’t mean it is. Ponzi means the people at the bottom loose everything. Not SS. IF you live long enough you stand a good chance of getting all your money back. Not Ponzi.

Kyle,

With different titles you and Jay are on the same subject: budget cutting. My take on it is none of the elected 535 really wants to cut the budget no matter what they say. The 535 get re-elected by bringing Federal funds “home”. So why would they really want to cut their own livelihood.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

January 7th, 2013
10:29 am

Most of you will have no problems, as long as you don’t try to get cute and post with multiple personalities.

Ruh, roh.

That’s gonna put a damper on at least one of your regulars.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Reality

January 7th, 2013
10:37 am

The republicans are again, totally insane.

The “debt ceiling” is money to pay current bills. It is not something that allows new spending – that is the budget they passed previously. Yet, the idiot republicans want to proclaim that they are fighting ’spending’ by not raising the debt ceiling?

The SPENDING is in the BUDGET. They should not pass the BUDGET if they don’t want to pay the BILLS!!!!

Even an idiot republican should know the difference.

td

January 7th, 2013
10:39 am

Kyle Wingfield

January 7th, 2013
10:19 am

So instead of punishing the trolls you instead punish everyone. Kind of sounds like a Democrat idea around gun control debate to me. Very disappointed my friend.

MrLiberty

January 7th, 2013
10:43 am

MarkV – first of all, foreigners are no longer purchasing our debt anywhere near the levels they used to. Now most is purchased by the Federal Reserve (with money printed out of thin air). Yes, we have been hearing these warnings for some time now and we are seeing the effects in all of the much higher prices (though still way below the levels they will rise to). Government manipulation of the CPI is hiding the truth from everyone, but we see the numbers when we go to buy stuff.

Pizzaman – Rush and Neil are idiots, but that doesn’t make SS anything other than a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is just a system in which the money taken in from newcomers is required to pay the people at the top. SS has been like that since its inception. When the system started there were 16 people paying the costs of 1 retiree. Now it is less than 2. Ultimately the people at the bottom will not get what they paid in. In fact, statistically black men get the least from the system while white women get the most. The money is spent by government as soon as it is received and all that remains are IOUs and a guarantee that the next generation will be taxed more and more to pay the bills of those who are retired.

You were lied to by the federal government. I am sorry for that. Plenty of people have been trying to tell the truth about SS but far too many actually want to believe that because they were stolen from all these years (and their employers) that there is actually money saved somewhere for their retirement. That’s what a system based on freedom, rather than force would have looked like, but unfortunately this system has all been based on force, lies, and hollow promises. The bill is finally coming due.

Kyle Wingfield

January 7th, 2013
10:43 am

td @ 10:39: I’m doing the best I can with what I have to work with. I know it isn’t ideal for a lot of people, but it is what it is. And, as you can see, you should have no problem posting.

td

January 7th, 2013
10:44 am

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
10:23 am

“Haven’t we heard this too many times already? The US was even “downgraded,” and what was the result: More money from lenders pouring in even at almost zero (an even negative considering inflation) interests, and inflation remaining low.”

And the more an individual falls into debt the more credit card application are sent to them. One day the piper will have to be paid. We can either start paying for it now on a beans and rice diet and everyone hurting a little or we can pay for at all at once where the poor and middle class will get hurt dearly.

clem

January 7th, 2013
10:44 am

the senator needs to look at too big to fail also; matt taibbi of rolling stones points out more fraud at the top

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 7th, 2013
10:53 am

I, for one, have no issues at all with registering this screen name for use by me and only me, should the AJC decide to put such as system in place. This would prevent name jackers and would considerably slow down the multiple personalities as it would require one working email address for each screen name. No one has to give up any personal information either, the email address can be shielded.

It should be a pretty simple thing to do.

MrLiberty

January 7th, 2013
10:55 am

Reality – “The SPENDING is in the BUDGET. They should not pass the BUDGET if they don’t want to pay the BILLS!!!!”

Well said. Just look at how many congressmen have voted NO on unbalanced budgets. The numbers are incredibly LOW. One I know for sure, Ron Paul, is now no longer there in congress to champion such principled stands.

But then again, how many americans demand that their elected representatives live within their means and only vote for balanced budgets? I know I do, but my voice certainly doesn’t matter to them.

MANGLER

January 7th, 2013
10:56 am

I see so much complaining about how much medicare and medicaid costs. I don’t see anyone complaining about all the companies who advertise for scooters, walkers, pills, and “ask your Doctor if this is right for you” and the fleet of “it won’t cost you a thing, delivered right to your door” spiels, which is entirely based on getting that Government money by taking advantage of those systems. Couldn’t those 2 systems simply say no to anything like that which is advertised?

But interfering with a private company would go against your free market argument. So the Gov’t is fighting back the only way it can (besides dismantling the 2 programs), and that’s by dictating how much they will pay for certain items and procedures. A Doctor wants to charge $5,000 for something? Uncle Sam will pay $1,000 of that. If you really want it, you foot the rest of the bill. Oh, I guess you didn’t need it that bad after all. Who else does that? Oh yeah, every single insurance company does that and they always have. It’s OK for them to operate within budgets and limits but not for the Govt?

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
11:04 am

td @ 10:44 am
“And the more an individual falls into debt the more credit card application are sent to them.”

Do you really believe that this is a rational argument?”

“…or we can pay for at all at once…”

Do you really believe that we would have to pay “at once?”

MarkV

January 7th, 2013
11:08 am

MrLiberty @ 10:43 am
“Government manipulation of the CPI is hiding the truth from everyone, but we see the numbers when we go to buy stuff.”

The old, ridiculous claim: If I do not like the numbers, I will say there have been manipulated. We have seen it with the unemployment figures, and here we go again.