Obama's National Commission On Fiscal Responsibility And Reform

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Yannis, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. Yannis


    From www.iStockAnalyst.com

    "On Wednesday afternoon, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its CoChairs' Proposal. A 50 slide PowerPoint presentation that outlines spending cuts, along with tax and entitlement reforms; all with the idea of putting the US back on a sustainable fiscal path.

    The overall goals are to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020, reduce the deficit to 2.2% of GDP by 2015, cap revenue at or below 21% of GDP, reduce the debt to 40% of GDP by 2037, modify the tax code, reduce tax rates, slow down the rate of healthcare costs, and to lengthen Social Security’s solvency.

    The findings are nonbinding and – in our view - will probably never be implemented. Many stories already say its dead-on-arrival.

    iStock reviewed the report for our readers and the mid-week i On the Market is a brief overview of the key proposals:

    Guiding Principles and Values kicks off the report by stating the obvious, the Federal Government cannot maintain its current spending habits; otherwise, we will be in that ditch Obama’s always talking about.

    It’s loaded with a lot of mumbo jumbo about how we all have to work together and the government needs to lead by example, blah, blah, blah… It’s the same sort of rhetoric we have heard from every politician and out of D.C. for years; yet, somehow we have become more divided and if families or corporations followed Washington’s budgeting examples, we would all be __________ (fill it in with the term(s) of your choosing.)

    The section’s most shake your head and say what?! bullet-point is that if nothing is done, we will spend “$1 trillion a year in interest alone by 2020.” The commission doesn’t say what their forecasts on interest rates are. If they are using current rates as the benchmark, $1 trillion is probably very, very, very conservative.

    On to the plan.

    It’s broken up into 5 parts:

    1. Enact tough discretionary spending caps and provide $200 billion in illustrative domestic and defense savings in 2015.

    2. Pass tax reform that dramatically reduces rates, simplifies the code, broadens the base, and reduces the deficit.

    3. Address the “Doc Fix” not through deficit spending but through savings from payment reforms, cost-sharing, and malpractice reform, and long-term measures to control health care cost growth.

    4. Achieve mandatory savings from farm subsidies, military and civil service retirement.

    5. Ensure Social Security solvency for the next 75 years while reducing poverty among seniors.

    Discretionary Spending Caps:

    The spending caps don’t kick in until 2012 – no mention if it’s before of after the elections – and will only be rolled back to 2010 levels. Starting in 2013, there will be an additional 1% cut in discretionary budget authority every year though 2015.

    $200 billion in cuts, split evenly between defense and domestic spending, can be found on pages 19 and 20 of the report.

    A few that caught our attention include:


    Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at the Department of Defense for three years.
    Freeze noncombat military pay at 2011 levels for 3 years.
    Reduce spending on Research, Development, Test & Evaluation by 10 percent.
    Reduce overseas bases by one-third.

    Freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation at non-Defense agencies for three years.
    Cut the federal workforce by 10% (2-for-3 replacement rate).
    Eliminate 250,000 non-defense service and staff augment eecontractors.
    Eliminate all earmarks.
    Slow the growth of foreign aid.
    Comprehensive Tax Reform:

    The proposal includes 3 plans for changing and simplifying the tax code. Each calls for the elimination of some tax credits, write-offs and deductions (maybe even including the mortgage deduction). In return, the income tax-rates will be lowered.

    The Zero Plan (we think the zero stands for zero deductions and tax credits) would set income tax rates at 8%, 14% and 23% and rise as credits and deductions are added back in. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed as ordinary income. The corporate rate would be reduced to 26%.

    Wyden-Gregg Style Reform would repeal AMT, PEP, and Pease, establish 3 rates –15%, 25% and 35%, and triple standard deduction to $30,000 ($15,000 for individuals).

    However, it would repeal state & local tax deduction, cafeteria plans, and miscellaneous itemized deductions, limit mortgage deduction to exclude 2nd residences, home equity loans, and mortgages over $500,000 and limit charitable deduction with floor at 2% of AGI.( iStock is not a fan of discouraging charitable contributions.) The Wyden-Gregg makes no mention of cap-gains or dividends.

    The 3rd option calls on the Finance and Ways & Means Committees and Treasury to develop and enact comprehensive tax reform by end of 2012. In the meantime, it would give a “haircut” for itemized deductions, employer health exclusion, and general business credits that would take effect in 2013 if reform is not yet enacted.

    This plan makes no mention or suggestion as to whether all or some of the Bush tax-cuts should be extended, or for how long. To iStock – option 3 is by far the least attractive of the plans.

    Of the plans – we probably prefer option 1 without exemptions.

    Reducing Health Care Costs:

    Paying doctors less and tort reform sums up this section fairly well.

    In addition to alienating Drs and lawyers, starting in 2020, the panel suggests containing growth in total federal health spending to GDP+1% by establishing a process to regularly evaluate cost increases.

    With benefits and costs of Obamacare up in the air and not address by the commission, nobody knows what healthcare costs for the federal government and states are going to be. There have been plenty of headlines about employers dropping coverage, the McDonalds exemption, increasing premiums…

    All of these issues are likely to drive more – not less – people into government provided healthcare. In addition, the high cost of paying for pre-existing conditions will have to come from somewhere.

    In all likelihood, a greater share of the cost of healthcare is going to be hoisted upon the federal and state governments. Under that scenario, iStock is not sure that paying Dr.s and lawyers less and GDP+1% are real solutions to containing this monster’s escalation.

    Mandatory Savings:

    The two biggest savers are using a lower inflation calculation for indexing costs and reducing farm subsidies by $3 billion per year. In addition, federal workers will have to pay ½ of their pension costs – not the current 1/14th.

    Most of the cost cuts in this section are small; between 2011 and 2020 the total saving is estimated to be $248 billion. Besides military personnel and federal employees, most American’s won’t even notice the difference.

    Strengthening Social Security:

    The idea is to have people work longer, receive smaller cost of living adjustments, tax more income, reduce benefits for high income earners (means testing) and have state and local government employees start to contribute in 2020 (no federal employees?).

    Anybody that’s ever paid attention knew years ago that these Social Security changes were inevitable. Heck, when I was ten, thirty-four years ago, my dad told me these adjustments were coming. What the hell took the government so long to admit it?

    This is the first year that the “trust fund” is paying out more money than it is taking in. Seniors are not seeing any cost of living increases, while costs are going up. Social Security is already broken.

    Entitlement reform, while likely to shortchange many, is 100% necessary. Between Medicare and Social Security, the US has somewhere between $70 and $140 trillion in unfunded liabilities. We have read that there is not that much money in the entire world!

    Like it or not, we have real structural problems that require real solutions. The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is a good way to get the national conversation started on how and what changes we are willing to make. However, the time for talk is short, and the need for action is now."
  2. Yannis


    Things Are About To Get Ugly
    by John Hayward, Daily Events

    The President’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission released its draft proposal Wednesday, stuffed with tax increases and spending cuts guaranteed to infuriate everyone. Co-chairman Alan Simpson joked about entering the Witness Protection Program on his way out of the commission meeting. Do you remember the children’s game “Operation,” in which you pull little plastic bones and organs out of a guy with a red nose that lights up when you make a false move? Deficit reduction is like that, except the game board is wired with ten thousand volts.

    The commission intended its proposal to be a conversation starter. It’s already been a rousing success. Republicans on the House Ways & Means committee, including GOP Conference Chair-favorite Jeb Hensarling of Texas, expressed their appreciation for “the leadership of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles on the Fiscal Commission, and their shared commitment to addressing our pressing fiscal challenges. This is a provocative proposal, and while we have concerns with some of their specifics, we commend the co-chairs for advancing the debate.”

    On the other hand, the unflinching enemies of tax-and-spend over at Americans For Tax Reform do not like the oily tax increases leaking from this engine of deficit reduction. They say the commission’s report “confirms what everyone has known—this commission is merely an excuse to raise net taxes on the American people.”

    In the wake of the historic 2010 midterm elections, the discussion about balancing our uncontrolled federal budget has begun —which means that things are about to get ugly. "
  3. Yannis


    Let's keep fighting!
    by Robert Romano www.getliberty.org

    "Today, ALG President Bill Wilson issued the following statement on the preliminary recommendations of the Obama deficit commission:

    "The deficit commission does not contemplate a balanced budget until 2040. It never contemplates reducing the overall $13.7 trillion debt, which will continue to grow year-on-end. The American people want to pay down and retire the national debt, not continue to grow it. We don't have 30 years to balance the budget.

    "If Congress does not act to balance the budget and begin reducing the debt immediately, next year the Federal Reserve will become the number one holder of U.S. debt. Failure to act now will mean the debt will soar past 100 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in just a few short years. By 2018, if not sooner, our Triple-A credit rating will be downgraded. In fact, China has already taken the step of downgrading us. The commission's recommendations, if enacted today, would not prevent one of these things from happening, meaning higher costs to paying the debt in the future, and a weaker dollar. Ultimately, the dollar will lose its special status as the world's reserve currency.

    "By failing to outline the consequences of doing nothing, the commission starts out in exactly the wrong place. Because it does not contemplate the real problems posed by the unsustainable debt, it offers the wrong solutions. The commission focuses on gradually reducing the deficit, which is the wrong premise, when Congress needs to focus on reducing and eventually paying off the $13.7 trillion national debt. Before it has even presented its final findings, Obama's commission has failed."

    This is an incredibly weak proposal by the so-called deficit commission. Let's get on CapWiz and urge returning members of Congress to reduce not just the deficit, but to go much further and enact a plan for balancing the budget and paying off and retiring the national debt. If your member(s) are not returning next year, you can contact the incoming member(s) by clicking here, using CapWiz's contact the candidates function.

    In today's Liberty Action Report, Republicans promise to use debt ceiling debate to cut spending, a salute to our veterans, George Soros sits on a UN panel to use "climate change" as a pretext to redistribute wealth internationally, and Nancy Pelosi celebrates the "accomplishments" of her tenure as Speaker of the House.

    Please send your letters to the editor to Robert@getliberty.org. We publish all points of view! Today, Ann Yarbrough writes in part on the imminent automatic reinstatement of the estate tax:

    "Regardless of how significant the death tax is exactly, the death tax is theft of savings! Families plan for the well being and continuity of their offspring as best they can. It is truly disgusting how some members of our legislature continue to come up with new ways to steal from us."

    It is stealing. What's the point of even saving if the government is just going to come in after you die and take it away from your children?"
  4. Tsing Tao

    Tsing Tao

    hmm, i heard something about this recently. i cant remember who said it.