Deficit Panel Recommendations: DOA or just the beginning? Video

I have spent the evening reviewing the Debt Commission summary and the pundits’ complaints on the right and left. The left … led by among others, the suddenly rehabbed Keith Olbermann focus on cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Ridiculous. If these are cuts then we have no hope of implementing anything real. But the right may push any reform right off the table. One more thing. I think I agree with Juan Williams on this. Does that make me a bad person?

Conservatives, of which I am one, led by the Americans for Tax Reform has legitimate complaints, for sure. The most glaring point is pegging spending cuts in the future to 2010 levels … the apex (thus far) of Obama’s “drunken sailor” spending binge. Nice try, says AFT.

But my take is a little different. I think the plan is a good one. I think it is a benchmark for  Congress that lacks little restraint. It is the first adult conversation anyone inside the Beltway has had on debt control in my memory. For instance.

Requires a one percent spending cut based on the spending levels of the previous year from 2012 until 2015, but bases these cuts off of the starting point of the bloated FY10 levels and only requires spending reductions until 2015, the benchmark for the President’s goal of deficit reduction.

It’s not perfect but it’s also not law. There is nothing to stop a Republican Congress from setting benchmarks at 2008 spending levels, which may I say, isn’t exactly the definition of fiscal restraint either.

The left on the other hand, is portraying this plan as an assault on the old and ill. Hardly. It’s true the bill calls for changes in both social security and medicare:

On Social Security, the plan would gradually raise the retirement age to 68 around 2050 and 69 by 2075. It would combine a cut in benefits with a rise in taxes on wealthier people’s incomes. It would also seek to rein in federal spending on health care beyond what’s called for in the recently passed health-care overhaul. This would be achieved by introducing further changes, including reform of medical-malpractice law, and by seeking to slow the growth of the Medicare program.

Calling this an attack on the old and sick is nonsense. One Democrat said he could not support a plan that asks the middle class to work until they are 69, without bothering to add that the “69” age threshold will apply to Americans who are currently 4 years old. I would imagine that a four year old’s life expectancy will be greater than today’s seniors and I also expect a 4 year old has plenty of time to plan for this “unconscionable” attack on his middle classness.

Other changes make great sense and are close to what I have been calling for for a while now. For instance:

Among the controversial proposals, the plan in its current form would end or cap a wide range of breaks relied on by the middle class, including the deduction for home-mortgage interest. It would tax capital gains and dividends at the higher rates now levied on wage income. To compensate, one version of the plan would dramatically lower and simplify individual rates, to 9%, 15% and 24%.

For businesses, the plan would significantly lower the corporate tax rate—from a current top rate of 35% to as low as 26%—but also eliminate a number of deductions. It would make permanent the research and development tax credit. Overall, the plan would cut the federal deficit by $3.8 trillion by 2020.

It’s a simplified tax system that eliminates the tax breaks that have led to the kind of political shenanigans and special interest corruption that has made Congress the cesspool that it has become. While I prefer a one bracket system, I would be ready to accept a three bracket flat tax. And cutting the corporate tax rate is long over due.

Your thoughts are welcome but I found what Juan Williams had to say tonight interesting. He thinks it’s possible to get this through … even though most of the criticism is from the left.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY7_GUtNib4

Pronouncing this DOA simply because it’s not perfect is a mistake.Personally I would like to have seen a tougher stance on spending, but when a commission calls for a hiring freeze and pay freeze of Federal workers, a modified flat tax, cut corporate tax rates and spending pegged to something for a change, you have my attention. Go ahead my little mobsters … start taking your shots. I’m a big boy, I can take it.  And please don’t hate me for standing with Juan on this.

UPDATE: If you are thinking there’s time to mull this over … mull this one over.

Controversial or not, Bowles said serious action was demanded. He declared, “This debt is like a cancer that will truly destroy this country from within if we don’t fix it.”

The government reported separately Wednesday that the deficit for last month alone was $140.4 billion — and that was 20 percent lower than a year earlier. The red ink for all of the past fiscal year was $1.29 trillion, second highest on record, and this year is headed for the third straight total above $1 trillion.

Current deficits require the government to borrow 37 cents out of every dollar it spends.

16 replies
  1. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    As sensible as it might be, it will never happen.  Øbama's base, as exemplified by the infamous Olbermann, will never stand for it.  This is what they accuse the Republicans of wanting to do every election cycle!

     

    Maybe I should be optimistic: since they brought it up now, maybe they plan to implement it and just blame the rascally Republicans.

  2. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    "I would imagine that a four year old’s life expectancy will be greater than today's seniors"

    LOL Jim, remember presently we have Obamacare, that will probably decrease the present 4 year old's life span. Hey, maybe that's the plan! Lower life span for all!!! What a slogan.

  3. Wayne SW
    Wayne SW says:

    We have to reduce spending.  We have to reduce the tax burden.  Specific attention must be applied to entitlement spending.  The great society of the LBJ era has failed.  Minorities are now in a more evil type of slavery…..the trillions and trillions of dollars confiscated have only led to the slavery of the soul.  Far worse than the chains and shackles of Pre-Civil War.  Pre-Civil War, Freedom was a attainable dream. There is an entire culture, three generations long of waiting for the monthly govt. hand out.

    Real change will require moving from a hand out to a hand up.

  4. Randall Avery
    Randall Avery says:

    We should demand that Congress adopt this slogan:  We Feel Your Pain, But We Must Say NO, and We Must Cut What You Are Getting Today. 

    Any sensible Democrats out there?

  5. Friday John
    Friday John says:

    Jim,

    I'm surprised that you fell for this useless and deceptive Deficit Commission report.  This piece of junk took months to put together?  There are over 6,000 federal programs and this Commission can't include one program that should be discontinued?  Are they kidding us?  How stupid do they think we are?  A 2-yr freeze on federal saleries?  We need 50% less federal workers… period.  Then a pay and benefit cut for many of those remaining should follow.

    Republicans need to take a play from the Dems playbook.  NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTER – (and this is a real crisis).  We need bold action that fundementally changes the budget and the budget process.  Repubs should take the opportunity of this massive debt to actually reduce the federal government.  We have to change the question from "why would you get rid of the dept of education?"  to "why should we keep the dept. of ed?" They don't educate a single child!  They just consume tax payers dollars while handing out federal mandates.

    There cannot be any fiscal sanity while Obamacare remains the law.  Federal walfare?   Dead – leave it to the states.  The energy department?  Dead – it has only led to less and more costly energy.  No more subsidising wind mills, ethanol, and solar projects.  The FDA?  Does anyone have any confidence in the FDA?  NO – gut it and move towards independent, private oversight.  OSHA – massive cuts are needed, workplace safety requirements are way over the top.  People that don't need to be trained are required to be trained in all sorts of ways. 

    EPA – cut everything that doesn't require issuing a direct permit.  DOT – stop funding commuter train service  – focus on maintaining what we have (bridges, roads, etc.)

    NOAA – stick to core functions like data gathering data and monitoring.  ACOE – actually increase money to dredge harbors… that's a core federal function that needs to be accelerated.  Maritime business are leaving the state or going out of business because our harbors are too shallow to make many port operations viable. 

    IRS?  Don't get me started.  But we shouldn't add a single agent to enforce Obamacare.  DOD – stickto core functions.  They have their paws into too many things.  And stop making them reduce their CARBON FOOTPRINT!!!!!

    Stop all federal government incentives for everything from hybrid and electric car credits to credits for new windows and heaters.

    Stop the PEL grant program and force universities to become price competitive.

    The Commission should not have included one person that has been a politician or closely tied to Washington in any way. 

    No half measure Jim – we are now really on the BRINK  thanks to Obama and the Dems.

  6. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    OUCH Friday John. There…I said it for you Jim.

     Although I agree 100% with you FJ I have to say I believe Jim is correct that this is the right plan for the times we are in. Too agressive and you will see the republican wave reversed in short order (See Dimsdale's post).

     We can't let this be DOA. The march to socialism must IN THE LEAST be resisted.

  7. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Let's start with eliminating pork first.  How many new Federal buildings do we need?  How much do we need to spend on them.  I only have to looka few blocks from here to the "New" Federal Courthouse

    in Springfield.  Is it nice?  Most certainly Did we need one? Yes.  Why was the price tag so high?  We could have done just as well with a cheaper structure.  Who needs acres of glass and stone?

    Then lets look at agencies that have out lived or outstripped their purposes.  If we want business to grow, to increase revenues, we need to get government out of the way.

    That is KISS

  8. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Let’s start with eliminating pork first.? How many new Federal buildings do we need?? How much do we need to spend on them.? I only have to looka few blocks from here to the “New” Federal Courthouse
    in Springfield.? Is it nice?? Most certainly Did we need one? Yes.? Why was the price tag so high?? We could have done just as well with a cheaper structure.? Who needs acres of glass and stone?

    Then lets look at agencies that have out lived or outstripped their purposes.? If we want business to grow, to increase revenues, we need to get government out of the way.

    That is KISS

  9. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Let’s start with eliminating pork first.? How many new Federal buildings do we need?? How much do we need to spend on them.? I only have to looka few blocks from here to the “New” Federal Courthouse
    in Springfield.? Is it nice?? Most certainly Did we need one? Yes.? Why was the price tag so high?? We could have done just as well with a cheaper structure.? Who needs acres of glass and stone?

    Then lets look at agencies that have out lived or outstripped their purposes.? If we want business to grow, to increase revenues, we need to get government out of the way.

    That is KISS

  10. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Let’s start with eliminating pork first.? How many new Federal buildings do we need?? How much do we need to spend on them.? I only have to looka few blocks from here to the “New” Federal Courthouse
    in Springfield.? Is it nice?? Most certainly Did we need one? Yes.? Why was the price tag so high?? We could have done just as well with a cheaper structure.? Who needs acres of glass and stone?

    Then lets look at agencies that have out lived or outstripped their purposes.? If we want business to grow, to increase revenues, we need to get government out of the way.

    That is KISS

  11. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Let’s start with eliminating pork first.? How many new Federal buildings do we need?? How much do we need to spend on them.? I only have to looka few blocks from here to the “New” Federal Courthouse
    in Springfield.? Is it nice?? Most certainly Did we need one? Yes.? Why was the price tag so high?? We could have done just as well with a cheaper structure.? Who needs acres of glass and stone?

    Then lets look at agencies that have out lived or outstripped their purposes.? If we want business to grow, to increase revenues, we need to get government out of the way.

    That is KISS

  12. winnie888
    winnie888 says:

    I find it ironic that the democrats are the ones whining the most over this commission's report.  They're the primary reason we are where we are.  Obama is like an 18 year old kid with his first credit card and no paycheck to support the monthly payments.  HIS spending habits of the past two years should not be allowed to continue, whatever "plan" they come up with.

    The socialism experiment has failed.  Can we call it O and VER and just move back to center-right rather than left-left-left?  Extremes do not benefit anyone; I especially hate the "left extreme" because it always crashes and burns and costs the country morally and financially.

  13. mynoc3
    mynoc3 says:

    I agree with some of the comments above.  That being said, let's not just discount this panel's recommendations.  They are just that: recommendations.  It's a good place to start.  As Confucius said: "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."  Some of these proposals are a good thing.  That doesn't mean we have to put it all into a 1000+ page bill.  I hope the new congress will brake it down and discuss some of this. 

    For example, the mortgage tax credit can be discussed as a seperate issue.  It would be nice to eventually phase it out of existance.  Unfortunately, a lot of people have taken this credit into account when making the decision to buy a house and for their finances in the upcoming year.  I do not beleive in a "cold turkey" stop to it.  Nor do I think some people should get it and others should not.  Instead, I think it should people should be weaned off of it by allowing them to take a smaller part of the credit (90% the first year, 80% the second, etc.)  Just an idea and I like JohnK said: KISS

  14. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    After reading the "proposal" to raise the retirement age to 68 by 2050 and to 69 by 2075 I lost interest in any other suggestion for "reform". This is not serious, it's make believe.

  15. TomL
    TomL says:

    Sammy just what are you against with the age proposal? Not soon enough? Perhaps retire at age 60? What don't you like?

  16. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    It's simple, TomL. By 2075 I'll be long gone, and so will my daughter. It may not even matter to my grandchildren. Who knows what will happen in the next 65 years? It's a fantasy to predict anything that far in advance. Looking back to 65 years ago boggles the mind!

Comments are closed.