Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Who will be upset by panel's proposal on national debt? Nearly everyone.

The co-chairs of Obama's deficit-reduction panel issued a proposal to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion in 10 years. But the budget cuts and tax increases promise to anger just about everyone.

By Staff writer / November 10, 2010

Erskine Bowles (l.) accompanied by former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission, take part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 10.

Alex Brandon/AP

Enlarge

Washington

The co-chairmen of President Obama’s deficit-reduction panel issued a draft proposal Wednesday outlining ways to achieve a nearly $4 trillion reduction in national debt over the next 10 years. Among other things, they urge deep cuts in domestic and military spending, raising the retirement age to 69, and ending or curbing popular tax breaks such as the deduction for mortgage interest.

Skip to next paragraph

Whose hair will light on fire as they peruse this interim report? Plenty of people. It includes something to make folks of almost every political persuasion mad.

But that may be a point of pride for the leaders of the bipartisan deficit panel, Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, and Alan Simpson, a former Republican US senator from Wyoming. They appear to be trying to wake up official Washington to the scale of the problem and the scope of needed solutions.

“A sensible, real plan requires shared sacrifice – and Washington should lead the way and tighten its belt,” said the pair in their draft.

So who won’t like this, and why? Here's a partial list here to give you an idea:

Democrats

The co-chairs’ proposal would take a paring knife to the big entitlement programs upon which Democrats have built their political appeal for decades. Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay more toward the cost of their health coverage, while the amount Medicare would pay for catastrophic medical conditions would be capped, for instance. The Social Security retirement age for full benefits would rise gradually to 69, for example, while cost-of-living benefit increases would be reduced.

The deficit panel co-chairmen say Social Security needs to be reformed for its own long-term health, as opposed to deficit reduction. But the program’s advocates are suspicious.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story