Tuesday, December 7, 2010

calling Obama's bluff on his own deficit commission

From Timothy Lamer in World...

President Obama's deficit commission was supposed to be a test of the GOP's seriousness about the deficit. "Next year, when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up," said the president in January. "Because I'm calling their bluff."

But when the commission's chairmen—former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles—floated a compromise trial proposal on Nov. 10, Democratic leaders were the ones who refused to step up and take it seriously.

Simpson and Bowles proposed a mix of spending restraints and tax hikes, and they included plenty for both parties to dislike. Their plan would eliminate farm subsidies, cut defense and discretionary programs, and raise revenue by closing popular tax loopholes like the mortgage interest deduction and the child tax credit (while lowering rates) and raising the gasoline tax. Simpson and Bowles would also restrain the growth of Social Security by very slowly raising the retirement age, adjusting the cost of living index, and curbing benefits for wealthier retirees. They would raise the payroll tax on high-income Americans and raise premiums and co-pays for many Medicare recipients...

Two other members of the commission, Ryan and former Clinton budget director Alice Rivlin, took a different approach, proposing to raise slowly the eligibility age for Medicare and turn it into a voucher program to buy private insurance for people who enter the program after 2021...


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