So­cial Se­cu­rity cuts are part of deficit plan

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

WASHINGTON: The mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's deficit com­mis­sion will be­gin to go on the record Wed­nes­day as they de­bate po­lit­i­cally ex­plo­sive bud­get cuts, in­clud­ing pro­pos­als to lower So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits, in a re­vised plan to wres­tle the na­tional debt un­der con­trol.

The new plan by panel cochair­men Ersk­ine Bowles and Alan Simp­son, to be un­veiled Wed­nes­day, faces an up­hill slog be­cause of pro­pos­als to raise the So­cial Se­cu­rity re­tire­ment age and lower cost-of-liv­ing in­creases, cut Medi­care costs, cur­tail a huge as­sort­ment of tax breaks, like the de­duc­tion for mort­gage in­ter­est, and al­most dou­ble the fed­eral tax on a gal­lon of gaso­line.

Though the plan ap­pears un­likely to win enough bi­par­ti­san sup­port from the panel to be ap­proved for a vote in Congress this year or next, Bowles has al­ready de­clared vic­tory, say­ing he and Simp­son have at least suc­ceeded in ini­ti­at­ing an "adult con­ver­sa­tion" in the coun­try about the pain it will take to cut the deficit.

The plan faces re­sis­tance from many com­mis­sion mem­bers. House Repub­li­cans ap­pear uni­formly against tax in­creases, while lib­eral Democrats like Jan Schakowsky of Illi­nois ap­pear un­likely to be able to ac­cept big cuts in fed­eral pro­grams for se­niors. Obama named the com­mis­sion in hopes of bring­ing a deficit-fight­ing plan up for a vote in Congress this year, but it ap­pears to be fall­ing well short of the 14-vote bi­par­ti­san su­per­ma­jor­ity needed.

A new ver­sion of the plan, ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press on Tues­day, makes mostly mi­nor changes to a draft that whipped up enor­mous con­tro­versy when un­veiled ear­lier this month. Some do­mes­tic spend­ing cuts are mod­estly higher than pre­vi­ously pro­posed, and health care sav­ings from over­haul­ing the med­i­cal mal­prac­tice sys­tem would reap less than pro­posed ear­lier this month.

Un­like their orig­i­nal pro­posal, Bowles and Simp­son stop short of call­ing for caps on med­i­cal mal­prac­tice awards. In­stead they rec­om­mend changes in how awards are made. -Reuters

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