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November 10, 2010

Simpson, Bowles Propose Cuts to Social Security and Medicare as Part of Deficit-Reduction Panel
Updates

Above-the-Main-Post Update: Drew reads further and writes:

They want to repeal state and local tax deductions.

Looks like the mortgage thing only applies to 2nd homes and mortgages over 500K, not entirely.

They also say roll non-defense, discretionary spending back (starting in '12) to 2010 levels. In other words, lock in all of the Obama spending forever and always.

They can go fuck themselves.

Uh, yeah on that last bit. Roll back spending to 1998 levels -- like as spurred the Miracle Economy of Bill Clinton (TM) -- and that's a good start.


And here we go!

Leaders of President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission on Wednesday proposed reducing the annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security, part of a bold plan to control $1 trillion-plus budget deficits.

The proposal also would set a tough target for curbing the growth of Medicare and recommends looking at eliminating popular tax breaks, such as mortgage interest deduction.

As proposed, the plan by Chairman Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., doesn't look like it can win support from 14 of the commission's 18 members to force a debate in Congress. Bowles is a Democrat and was former President Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff.

Cuts to Social Security and Medicare are making some liberals on the panel recoil. And conservative Republicans are having difficulty with options on how to raise tax revenue. The plan also calls for cuts in farm subsidies, foreign aid and the Pentagon's budget.

"This is not a proposal I could support," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. "On Medicare and Social Security in particular, there are proposals that I could not support."

The Social Security proposal would change the inflation measurement used to calculate cost of living adjustments for program benefits, reducing annual cost-of-living increases. It will almost certainly draw opposition from advocates for seniors, who are already upset that there will be no increase for 2011, the second straight year without a raise.

Overall, that sounds pretty good to me. The cut to the mortgage-interest deduction is of course effectively a hike in taxes for homeowners, but I'm not sure if that alone is a reason to oppose it.

So, here's a serious proposal, quite heavy on the spending cuts and rather light on tax increases, which seems pretty necessary if we're to get spending under control.

A la Allah:

Exit question: Are the majority of Tea Partiers ready to actually make the cuts they talk about in vague, abstract ways, even when such cuts reduce social spending directed towards them?

Exit answer: No.

Here's the sad fact: People want free stuff, including (or especially) those who talk the loudest about ending the flow of free stuff to other people.

That said, this is important stuff, and should be pushed as hard as possible.

But, like a dozen other blue-ribbon deficit-reduction panels' proposals that came before it -- all making similar recommendations -- I expect this will go nowhere.

The Democrats will of course demagogue this, and the GOP will flinch.

Oh: Beating up on "the establishment" is a favorite past-time right now, but it should be remembered the establishment panders to us -- they reflect, then, what we're asking of them.

P.J. O'Rourke noted in his book Parliament of Whores that none of the sensible cuts he suggested would ever actually happen, because for each subsidy, there is a constituency demanding the subsidy -- including rock-ribbed individualist conservatives who don't truck with no government hand-outs (but farming subsidies aren't handouts, you know).

We wind up with a parliament of whores, he wrote, and in a democracy, the whores are us.

And making a similar point -- Milton Friedman.


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posted by Ace at 01:57 PM

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