Deficit panel’s Rx: ‘Cancer’ surgery

by
November 11, 2010

By David Sands, The Washington Times

The chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission tipped their hand Wednesday, releasing a stark, sweeping proposal to rein in federal debts and deficits with cuts to spending programs, Social Security and Medicaid benefits and an increase in the retirement age over the next four decades from 65 to 68.

Among the budgetary sacred cows gored in the plan — at least in one of the options offered by the chairmen — would be elimination of the popular mortgage-interest deduction for homeowners, the child tax credit, deductions for state and local taxes and charitable giving. The draft suggests matching the cuts with a simplification and streamlining of the federal tax code establishing just three rates, with the top rate dropping from the current 35 percent to 23 percent.

“This debt is like a cancer that will truly destroy this country from within if we do not address it,” said Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton, who joined his fellow co-chairman, former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, in releasing the proposal.

The White House took a noncommittal stance on the 50-page proposal, but the draft recommendations from the Republican and Democrat heads of the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform could prove politically explosive as the president and the newly energized Republicans on Capitol Hill grapple with record federal deficits, a weak economy and a total U.S. government debt on the brink of passing the $14 trillion mark.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed the plan as “simply unacceptable,” while AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka called the proposed program cuts “unconscionable.”

Fiscally conservative Republicans, whose ranks were swelled by the midterm vote, were more cautious, saying the chairmen’s draft had merit, but may not survive powerful entrenched interests in Washington that have frustrated past efforts at fiscal discipline.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/10/deficit-panels-rx-cancer-surgery/

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