In the “hit lists”, the blue ideas are ones I think are workable; the red ideas are ones that piss me off. (I cut the others for length…the link has them.) I have no special knowledge beyond what I write.
The overarching goal, Simpson and Bowles write, is to achieve “nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020” while reducing “the deficit to 2.2% of GDP by 2015.”
here are a few of the more noteworthy suggestions.
- Achieve100 billion in Illustrative Defense Cuts;
- Index retirement age for Social security to increases in longevity. “This option is projected to increase the age by one month every two years after it reaches 67 under current law, meaning the normal retirement age would reach 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.” There will be a “hardship exemption” for those unable to work beyond 62;
- Give retirees the choice of collecting half their benefits early and the other half at a later age to minimize impact of actuarial reduction and support phased retirement options;
- Gradually increase gas tax to fund transportation spending.
Quit raising my gas tax! The military bases are supposed to be tax-free zones, you know. But then some oil and gas execs got the idea that they could be making more money and—boom—we don’t get that benefit anymore. (They killed the cigarette tax when they decided the government was sending a bad message. The pornography left the bookstores when Tipper Gore and Co. decided parents wouldn’t want their kids, who’d they’d sent to the military to raise, to have access to that smut. Ugh.)
They did something similar to the half now/half later idea with military members who came in at a certain point and would retire: they got a certain amount in exchange for ten years of lowered retirement pay. (After that, it goes back to normal, which will be a nice jump.)
I’m not old enough to discuss the Social Security issue with any authority, but the phasing in times seem reasonable.
And could someone in Congress grow balls long enough to decrease defense spending? Like, I don’t know, by the $100 billion Robert Gates asked you to?? Cojones vs Earmarks. We know what won.
UPDATE – 1:45PM ET: A more detailed list of discretionary spending cuts …:
- Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at non-defense agencies for three years;
- Cap the number of federal political appointments at 2,000;
- Eliminate the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools;
- Reduce unnecessary printing costs;
- Cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Last one first: Stop funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting??? Are you insane? Am I the only person who grew up watching Sesame Street and The Electric Company? (And Mr.. Rogers—the coolest man in the universe.) I listen to NPR, and it’s about as liberal as a blank sheet of paper. (Juan Williams was fired for good cause, something people and corporations who believe bigotry is acceptable would never understand.)
Freeze federal salaries—but only for non-defense agencies. Why? Do special people work for DOD? I worked for DOD, and I didn’t do anything that other government agencies didn’t do. You can work for DOD and do the same job you would do at FEC, EOC, DMV…pick an acronym. Unless you’re in the service, you’re 99% flexible.
I’m a big military member supporter, but the DOD has become the government’s GOD. Atheism aside, there is something wrong with that. Besides, do people really understand what the average federal employee makes? Given Rand Paul’s idiotic assertion that they make $120K, I’m guessing not. The average federal employee is on the GS-schedule, and the wages don’t go up that high. That amount is wrong. (If you want some info on why there is a discrepancy, here is some. Minor issue: the government includes the entire pension plan in figuring the average wage. What’s another $28 billion?)
Reducing unnecessary printing costs? Please! Do it now! HIPAA has left a tree—a BIG tree—dead in my filing cabinet. I’ve seen government papers for years, and I swear at least half of them I see twice. The same damn paper. The government has a hoarding problem, and they need help.
Cap the # of political appointees. Sure. Now. When they get a conservative in the White House, they’ll rip that cap right off. This is extremely partisan, and a huge no.
I say no to eliminating the office of Safe and Drug Free Schools without knowing anything about it, except that if the cut is on the same list as ending funding for PBS, I don’t like it.