By Cassandra Novick
A bipartisan group of centrist House lawmakers told reporters today that they have a plan to address the so-called upcoming “fiscal cliff,” but said that they won’t release details about it until after the November 6 elections.
The plan, which Rep. Steven LaTourette said is modeled after the 2010 Simpson-Bowles plan, would shave roughly $5 trillion off the nation’s deficit over the next ten years. LaTourette, who announced last weekend that he will be retiring from Congress at the end of this term, described the plan as “Simpson-Bowles Plus.”
In announcing his retirement, LaTourette said he was fed up with the increasingly uncompromising environment on Capitol Hill. In his remarks today, he alluded to the fact that such failure to compromise has created a massive deficit that lawmakers can’t seem to figure out.
LaTourette shared a story about an old collie of his that continually ran into a door in an attempt to go outside, and after many repeated gaffes, finally learned to get the door open before attempting to go through it. Similarly Congress, according to LaTourette, would have to hit a wall many times before learning they need to compromise to get anywhere.
“Congress is like an alcoholic, said the long-time Ohio Republican. “Before anything is going to get done, they have to hit rock bottom.”
The idea of the original Bowles-Simpson Plan was to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over ten years through an uneven combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
According to LaTourette, his group’s plan would aim to simplify the nation’s tax system, and would place more focus on reforming Medicare. A to-be-determined combination of individual and cooperate taxes would add up to a specific tax rate that could be as high as 29%.
The group of lawmakers also said they’d be willing to cut short their five-week August recess if party leaders agreed to come back to Washington and debate their plan. LaTourette, however, said that it might serve Congress well to go home and hear from their constituents. He also stated that he didn’t want fellow Republicans to have to take a stance on the plan before the election.
“We have to be considerate of our colleagues who say, ‘Not before November 6,’” he said.