Tuesday, November 02, 2010

News from the Catfood Commission

David Dayen in Cat Food Commission Will Get Busy After Elections FDL News Desk 11/02/2010 interprets the tea leaves offered in this article about the work of the President's Catfood Commission (officially named the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform), which is heavily stacked with let-Grandma-eat-catfood advocates who want to phase out Jacki Calmes, Social Security: Debt Panel Pauses Until After Elections New York Times 11/01/2010.

Despite the hype about the alleged vital need to reduce the deficit - something Republicans care absolutely nothing about and neither should the Democrats at this point - the Catfood Commission has always been about Social Security Phaseout. And Calmes' article confirms this is still its main focus:

While Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson will propose health policy changes for the commission’s deliberations, Social Security is getting more of the members’ attention. Republicans are more inclined to scale back future retirees’ benefits than are Democrats, especially since liberal groups have mobilized in opposition. Especially controversial is the idea of raising the retirement age for full benefits; currently it is being increased gradually to 67 under a 1983 law.

Other options include less generous formulas for both initial benefits and annual cost-of-living increases for retirees in future decades. Democrats say any compromise to assure Social Security’s solvency for the next 75 years would have to include increased payroll tax revenues as well as changes in benefits. The likeliest revenue option would raise the cap on wages subject to payroll taxes, now $106,800.

Both sides agree that they cannot make enough cuts in all other federal spending — the “discretionary” spending that Congress decides annually — to make a big dent in projected deficits. That category is smaller than entitlement programs as a share of the federal budget, is growing more slowly and yet covers the full range of government operations from education to warfare.
This is about phasing out Social Security. A bad, bad, extremely bad policy idea. And won that is virtually certain to be a disaster for the Democratic Party if President Obama embraces Social Security Phaseout. And it's his commission, his appointees. Congress declined to set it up, but Obama proceeded to do so by Presidential action.

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