Connie Mack is out of Congress, but his legislation carries on

Posted by Mitch Perry on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 11:33 AM

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For the first time in eight years, Connie Mack will not be living in Washington D.C. — at least part of the time — when the new Congress convenes in early January.

The 44-year-old Fort Myers Representative gave up his safe Congressional seat to run for U.S. Senate, and we all know what happened there — Mack had his clock cleaned, losing by 13 points to Bill Nelson last month.

Mack will start a new life next month, but his ideas are still alive. Well, at least one of them.

Remember the "Penny Plan"? That's the idea that Mack began espousing last year. It's defined by PolitiFact as such:

The math works like this: For six years, the federal government would reduce spending by 1 percent each year. In the seventh year, funding would be capped at 18 percent of gross domestic product, which measures the size of the overall economy. By the eighth year, the plan would balance the budget and save $7.5 trillion over 10 years.

If Congress and the president couldn't reach an agreement about what to cut, the plan would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts.

Mack didn't speak that much about the Penny Plan on the campaign stump. Then again, CL only caught the GOP Senate nominee in Tampa a few times in the waning weeks of the 2012 Election, so perhaps he just didn't talk about it during those moments.

Now, one of the leading Tea Party activist groups, the Tea Party Patriots, is calling on its members to get behind the Penny Plan. They write:

The advantage of the Penny Plan is that it cuts directly from the budget as it exists, instead of cutting from the baseline, e.g. expected future spending. So a cut is actually a cut, not merely a reduction in expected spending. It also caps non-interest spending at 18% of Gross Domestic Product, which is necessary in order to keep spending from exploding.

No plan is perfect, and the Penny Plan will require additional cuts in order to compensate for growing interest rate payments, but the basics are there, ready for anyone in Washington to pick up and run with. Instead, of course, both parties are talking about how much more of your money to take and spend.

The Penny Plan has received bipartisan support. Well, if you consider Lanny Davis an influential Democrat. The longtime Clinton ally wrote an op-ed last year where he said it was better than other GOP plans he had heard of.

Mack's Penny Plan might be imbalanced, from my perspective, lacking in the revenue-raising component endorsed by the bipartisan Gang of Six and the Simpson-Bowles commission. I believe Republicans will have difficulty in the 2012 congressional and presidential elections defending the proposition that the national debt can be significantly paid down from budget cuts alone, or that the wealthier in our society shouldn't pay more or at least stop taking advantage of tax loopholes to pay less.

But since the "balanced" solution of both increased revenues and spending cuts is supported in virtually every poll by substantial majorities of all voters, including large numbers of Republicans, Democrats need to find a spending cut formula that they can live with. The Mack Penny Plan seems a good place to start — it is simple, it makes common sense, and with some adjustments protecting the poor and the unemployed, it could be seen as fair even to many of the most liberal Democrats.

But as John Kennedy in the the Palm Beach Post wrote in October, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Penny Plan would force deep cuts in Medicare, Social Security and defense spending.

Then again if the "fiscal cliff" negotiations aren't settled by December 31, sequestration will hit, which would also force deep cuts in defense spending and many domestic social programs.

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