I mostly agree with Mark Warner on this. The fact is, there is absolutely no way we can tackle the deficit by focusing only, or mostly, on “non-defense discretionary spending.” Nor would we want to cut things like Head Start, Pell Grants, veterans and women’s health programs, funding for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, funding for Metro and other public transit systems, investment in clean energy and high-speed rail, etc, etc. It’s pretty much completely counterproductive to do that, and that’s not where the big money is anyway. Which is why I agree with Mark Warner that we need to tackle entitlements, defense spending, and other major items in the federal budget pie.
Having said all that, I would continue to point out that extension of the Bush tax cuts for a decade cost $4 trillion. That’s a major chunk, right there, of the projected budget deficits over that period. To me, as a progressive, it’s absolutely unconscionable – even immoral – to be slashing programs for veterans, children, the environment, clean energy, etc., while we’re continuing the foolish Bush tax cuts. Now, I understand the “art of the possible” politically, and that there’s basically no chance that Republican’ts will agree to cut the Bush tax cuts. But that’s where the “grand bargain” comes in: you want spending cuts, you’ve also got to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Then, we can talk about Medicare, Medicaid, and even Social Security (although that program’s really not a part of the problem) – plus military spending, of course. If the Bush tax cuts aren’t part of the “grand bargain?” Then it’s not much of a “bargain,” certainly not “grand,” and almost certainly not worth doing.