Pay No Attention to the Plan Behind the Curtain

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

David Brooks says Republicans should agree to a small deal that gives in a bit on taxes in return for a few modest spending cuts. However, it would come with a condition:

That on March 15, 2013, both parties would introduce leader-endorsed tax and entitlement reform bills in Congress that would bring the debt down to 60 percent of G.D.P. by 2024 and 40 percent by 2037, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Those bills would work their way through the normal legislative process, as the Constitution intended. If a Grand Bargain is not reached by Dec. 15, 2013, then there would be automatic defense and entitlement cuts and automatic tax increases.

I’m pretty sure I don’t understand this. But if I do understand it, Brooks is saying that Democrats and Republicans should agree on a plan (automatic defense and entitlement cuts and automatic tax increases) and then start work on a pair of alternate plans (leader-endorsed tax and entitlement reform bills). If the alternate plans fizzle out, the first plan will go into effect.

But….this still means that Democrats and Republicans have to agree on the first plan, the one that will go into effect if the alternate doesn’t pan out. And right now, that’s what they’re doing: trying to agree on a plan. It won’t suddenly get easier to do that just because they agree to maybe replace it someday with an alternate plan, something that Congress can do any time it wishes anyway.

There’s no magic here. Agreeing on a plan is hard. There are no cute psychological ploys or Jedi mind tricks that will make it any easier.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend