Chairmen of Deficit Commission Reveal Proposals
The chairmen of the commission unveiled their overarching recommendations for debt and deficit reduction on Wednesday afternoon, weeks before the official unveiling is expected.
The findings are not the final report of the commission, officially known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Rather they are the specific suggestions of its two chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. The ultimate findings will require the support of 14 members of the 18-member commission. And at this juncture it is unclear if the votes are there, sources familiar with deliberation say.
Leading public figures denounced the proposals.
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT):
The Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan is extremely disappointing and something that should be vigorously opposed by the American people. The huge increase in the national debt in recent years was caused by two unpaid wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, a Medicare prescription drug bill written by the pharmaceutical industry, and the Wall Street bailout. Unlike Social Security, none of these proposals were paid for. Not only has Social Security not contributed a dime to the deficit, it has a $2.6 trillion surplus.
It is reprehensible to ask working people, including many who do physically-demanding labor, to work until they are 69 years of age. It also is totally impractical. As they compete for jobs with 25-year-olds, many older workers will go unemployed and have virtually no income. Frankly, there will not be too much demand within the construction industry for 69-year-old bricklayers.
Despite all of the right-wing rhetoric, Social Security is not going bankrupt. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security can pay every nickel owed to every eligible American for the next 29 years and after that about 80 percent of benefits.
If we are serious about making Social Security strong and solvent for the next 75 years, President Obama has the right solution. On October 14, 2010, he restated a long-held position that the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes, now at $106,800, should be raised. As the president has long stated, it is absurd that billionaires pay the same amount into the system as someone who earns $106,800.
With the richest people in this country getting richer and the middle class in decline, it is absurd that billionaires pay the same amount into the Social Security system as someone who earns $106,800.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The chairmen of the Deficit Commission just told working Americans to ‘Drop Dead.’ Especially in these tough economic times, it is unconscionable to be proposing cuts to the critical economic lifelines for working people, Social Security and Medicare.
Some people are saying this is plan is just a “starting point.” Let me be clear, it is not.