I said yesterday that the key to evaluating Bowles-Simpson 2.0 was its stance on the Affordable Care Act. Their initial report (lets say Bowles-Simpson 1.0; release Dec. 2010) assumed full implementation of the ACA, and did not suggest an increase in the Medicare age. Most writing on version 2.0 has focused on the shift from a roughly $1cuts/$1tax increase mix of 1.0, to the ~$3cuts/$1 tax increase nature of 2.0. For me, the key is clarity on the ACA and then laying out next health policy steps, in large part because health care costs are the biggest long run issue.
After the June 2012 Supreme Court ruling and the past election in which the ability to get rid of the ACA was readily available to the country and not taken, I find the lack of a clear statement of the ACA as the law of the land and “the only horse we have to ride” in the Bowles-Simpson 2.0 document to be both surprising and disappointing. I think they assume this, but they need to do more than that if the document is designed to produce an actual deal. Further, version 2.0 seems to embrace an increase in the Medicare age: