The Catfood Commission co-chairs are trying hard to get ahead of the untimely release of their draft proposals for deficit reduction because they are so incredibly draconian no one would possibly agree to them, much less 14 of 18 commissioners, which is what it takes to get them approved. Conveniently released just before the lame duck session of the 111th Congress and before the House is invaded by the likes of Allen West and his merry band of teabaggers, it reads like a John Birch wet dream in places, and in others, like a Fortune 500 corporation's nightmare.
Simply put, it makes the Reagan administration initial proposals for Social Security reform look progressive, ignores the truth about Social Security's funding status, pays lip service only to cutting the defense budget while simultaneously taking shots at unions, the poor, the underprivileged and the elderly.
I've read it twice and still can't really believe they'd go there. Yet, they do. Via TalkingPointsMemo, because I'm still trying to sort it out and analyze the whole thing properly:
Their recommendations are more or less a list of the third-rail issues of American politics, including cuts in the number of federal workers; increasing the costs of participating in veterans and military health care systems; increasing the age of Social Security eligibility; and major cuts in defense and foreign policy spending. They also encompass a range of tax system reforms that have been floated by many in Washington for years to little effect, including funding tax rates reductions by eliminating many beloved credits and deductions.
You can read the whole report here if you have the stomach for it. They will not get these proposals out with 14 of 18 panelists agreeing to them, and my guess is that they'll end 2010 by sending nothing to Congress. Since their appointment ends 12/31/2010, the final result is likely to be a road map for the next House of Representatives, with a big fight ahead that no one wins.
Your Congress at work.
Update: Speaker Pelosi speaks, and she does so forcefully:
This proposal is simply unacceptable. Any final proposal from the Commission should do what is right for our children and grandchildren’s economic security as well as for our nation’s fiscal security, and it must do what is right for our seniors, who are counting on the bedrock promises of Social Security and Medicare. And it must strengthen America’s middle class families–under siege for the last decade, and unable to withstand further encroachment on their economic security.
Update #2: A DFA poll taken on election day shows even Republicans don't support cutting Social Security. They'd rather broaden the tax base.