So I've been perusing the Catfood Commissioners' minority report (keep in mind, this was never approved by the full panel), and I can't see this pile of steaming excrement as anything other than a cynical political ploy. I mean, just look at the content: It's a draconian collection of third-rail issues that will never, ever be passed by Congress.
It lays out options for overhauling the tax code that include limiting or eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. It envisions cutting Pentagon weapons programs and paring back almost all domestic programs.
The plan would reduce cost-of-living increases for all federal programs, including Social Security. It would reduce projected Social Security benefits to most retirees in later decades, though low-income people would get higher benefits. The retirement age for full benefits would be slowly raised to 69 from 67 by 2075, with a “hardship exemption” for people who physically cannot work past 62. And higher levels of income would be subject to payroll taxes.
But the plan would not count Social Security savings toward the overall deficit-reduction goal that Mr. Obama set for fiscal year 2015, reflecting the chairmen’s sensitivity to liberal critics who have complained that Social Security should be fixed only for its own sake, not to help balance the nation’s books.
It's almost as if it's designed to generate a tsunami of outrage.
They haven't had much luck with any of these proposals, so I have to believe they're deliberately pushing these ideas to get voters to accept the "reasonable" compromise proposal.
Except the final version won't be reasonable, either. As Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, "This proposal is simply unacceptable."
The Villagers (the same people who hate Pelosi), of course, love it. But then again, they love anything that allows them to look Serious and for us to be punished yet again. They know the game: They praise this, knowing it's politically DOA, because they know it will grease the skids for the real austerity.
If I had to pick the real serious proposals from the final package, it would include raising the retirement age.
I know, I know. Sounds reasonable, right? "People are living longer."
Let's be clear now. "People" are not living longer -- rich people are living longer. Working class people who can't afford quality medical care are falling behind on longevity. As Paul Krugman wrote today, "So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever."
I've written about this before: Raising the retirement age is a de facto benefit cut for all Social Security recipients. It's also a tax increase, because you'll have to work longer and pay into FICA longer.
The thing that's fascinating is, they were supposed to come up with political solutions to the deficit. Yet this proposal would phase out the mortgage interest deduction without any attempt to address what that would do to the already-shaky housing market, and eliminates the employer-tax exclusion for health care coverage while kind of blithely ignoring the resulting chaos. Is this supposed to be a serious proposal?
And now that the voters have seen what they're up to, I don't think they have a snowball's chance in hell.