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Daniels wants Simpson-Bowles 'reunion tour'

Has Daniels actually read the Simpson-Bowles budget plan?
Has Daniels actually read the Simpson-Bowles budget plan?Getty Images

If Republican Mitch Daniels has any lingering national ambitions, he might want to explain his debt-reduction plans in more detail.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday urged Congress to reconsider sweeping changes called for in a federal debt report he says has fallen by the wayside in the past year. Daniels said he would like to see a "reunion tour" of the sweeping report drafted by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles in 2010. [...] Daniels made the request on a conference call with the group No Labels, which group founder Nancy Jacobson said was heard by 20,000 listeners.

Putting aside skepticism about whether No Labels could get 20,000 people to get together on a Tuesday afternoon to listen to the governor of Indiana talk about debt reduction -- I find that unlikely -- the fact that there's continued support for the Simpson-Bowles plan in various GOP circles strikes me as odd.

Perhaps now would be a good time to note a relevant detail that's gone largely down the memory hole: Republicans used to hate the Simpson-Bowles plan.

In fact, the reason it's called the "Simpson-Bowles plan" instead of the "Simpson-Bowles commission plan" is that GOP officials on the panel refused to support it, guaranteeing the commission's failure. Indeed, how many of the Republican lawmakers on the panel agreed to endorse the chairmen's plan? Zero.

And why did Republicans hate Simpson-Bowles? Because, among other things, it raised taxes -- even more than President Obama's debt-reduction plan -- and slashed defense spending. It also allowed all of the Bush-era tax breaks to expire on time at the end of 2012.

Indeed, Matt Yglesias recently asked a good question: "Do Simpson-Bowles fans know what's in it?"

Part of me is left to assume that some Republicans have decided they like Simpson-Bowles as some kind of bizarre knee-jerk reaction -- Obama hasn't embraced it, so it must be good. But the fact remains that Simpson-Bowles is much further to the left that anything Republicans have been willing to even think about on debt reduction.

Does Mitch Daniels understand this?