August 15, 2012 by Ish
In 2010 President Barack Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to identify “…policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.”
Often called simply Bowles-Simpson — from the names of co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles — in an effort to obfuscate that this Commission was created by Obama, the Commission includes eighteen members (and one executive director were appointed by the President.) They include six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and six members of the U.S. Senate… notably one Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), you might have heard of him recently.
In November 2010 the NCFRR co-chairs, Simpson and Bowles, released a draft proposal for consideration by the full commission… and ultimately for approval by Congress. The proposal presented five “steps”
- $200 billion reduction per year in discretionary spending with cuts proposed in defense procurement (15%), closing a third of overseas military bases, eliminating congressional earmarks, and a 10% cutting in number federal workers.
- $100 billion in increased tax revenues through various tax reform proposals, such as introducing a 15 cent per gallon gas tax and eliminating several tax deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction and the deduction for employer-provided non-wage benefits.
- Controlling health care costs by maintaining the Medicare cost controls associated with the recent health care reform legislation, in addition to considering a public option and a further increase in the authority of Independent Payment Advisory Board.
- A reduction in entitlement spending, including farm subsidies, federal pensions, and student loan subsidies.
- Modifying to the Social Security program by raising the payroll tax and adjusting the retirement age.
The co-chairs also recommended some other measures (PDF) to stimulate economic growth, such as a cutting in the corporate tax rate from 35% to a more internationally competitive 26%.
President Obama came out in favor of the draft plan, even as was harshly criticized by many of member’s of the President’s own party leadership. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were particularly critical of proposals to change Social Security. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) — from Obama’s home state and one of Pelosi’s appointees to NCFRR — went on the attack: “We’re going to take it out on senior citizens? I am virulently against that proposal.”
Obama said he will await the commission’s Dec. 1 formal report before commenting in detail, and put some tentative support behind it:
“Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts,” Obama told reporters.
He added: “If people are, in fact, concerned about spending, debt, deficits and the future of our country, then they’re going to need to be armed with the information about the kinds of choices that are going to be involved, and we can’t just engage in political rhetoric.”
A couple of Democrat Congresscritters decided to take the President’s call not to “engage in political rhetoric” waaay to literally. As in, wanting to engage in no discussion of it at all. Reps. Mike Honda (D-California), Jerry Nadler (D-New York) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) — yes, the same Jan Schakowsky who is on the NCFRR panel — have sought to have any discussion of the NCFRR proposal banned from the upcoming presidential debates.
President Obama forms a commission to puzzle out possible solutions to our fiscal clusterfuck, Obama nad Pelosi name half the membership, and the commission eventually puts out — and votes down — a plan of action. Now a trio of Democrat Congress schmucks want to stop the presidential candidates from answering questions about it?
You know, when Julia and I named this blog with a Nineteen Eighty-Four reference, I was only expecting to make the occasional joke about Big Brother, doublethink, and the mainstream media’s constant use of the memory hole. But really, this is just to doubleplusunsmart to be believed. If MINITRUE had come up with this scheme, I’d have laughed aloud and stopped reading Orwell right there. One wonders if Rep. Schakowsky plans to unperson herself for having been a member of the commission.