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Politico reports today that Alice Rivlin has come out in favor of deferring Social Security to age 70 and/or cutting benefits, as part of her work on behalf of the (Pete) Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform.

This was the group holding those seminars back in June at which participants were given workbooks with narrowly proscribed solutions to the "deficit problem." Not to be confused with the catfood commission, the group nevertheless is hewing to similar sentiments and solutions as catfood commission members are stating via leaks to the press.

According to Politico:

And right at the moment when liberals are telling the president to keep his hands off Social Security, Rivlin’s about to announce a plan to fix the deficit that’s expected to include some of her past prescriptions for the problem.

Cut Social Security benefits. Or maybe raise the retirement age from 66 to 70. Or both.

Rivlin insists that her plan, written by a private group of former government officials for release after the midterms, won’t put any pressure on the president or the deficit commission — but instead could nudge the president’s commission toward compromise.

Rivlin is also one of Pres. Obama's direct appointees to the Catfood Commission, in addition to her service on behalf of Peterson's commission.

So we have Peterson's commission coming out with a report--conveniently after the midterms yet before the catfood commission's report due in early December--that will recommend cutting benefits and/or deferring eligibility for Social Security recipients. We don't need to wait till after the midterms, though, to read the policy proposals being put forth by the "bipartisan" Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the front group for the Peterson-Pew commission, since it has already posted their "solutions" on the organization's website.

Among the commission's recommendations to "preserve" social security:

* Raise the early and normal retirement ages to 63 and 68, and index to longevity [Rivlin has mentioned deferring the age till 70; keep in mind that the changes the Greenspan Commission helped enact during the Reagan years already defers eligibility to 66/67 for most boomers]

* Establish mandatory add-on retirement accounts [because Wall Street hasn't looted enough of our retirement funds yet, I guess]

Scarier yet are the commission's recommendations for Medicare:

* Increase Cost-Sharing

* Enact Medicare Malpractice Liability Reform

* Increase Medicare Eligibility Age to 67

A reminder: These are recommendations coming from Pete Peterson's commission, not Obama's catfood commission. But Rivlin is serving on both commissions, and her blanket statements about deferring the retirement age and cutting benefits augur ill for what the catfood commission will issue forth in its own recommendations.

If there's an upside to Rivlin's pronouncements, it's that it serves as an early warning system about the cuts that the catfood commission is likely to recommend, and serves as an impetus for activists to start pushing back against the idea that Medicare and Social Security should be used as deficit-reduction weapons. And, as the Politico story points out, the last thing the Democratic Party needs at this point is to alienate voters by supporting any cuts to these programs.

As for Rivlin, she sees herself as a facilitator of the tough solutions that the catfood commission will have to make:

She notes that her commission, convened by the Peterson Foundation, predated the president’s commission. She says she hopes that her report and others due from private groups this fall will help the president’s commission reach consensus. She will not say exactly what she plans to recommend, but confirms that she has long argued that a comprehensive solution to the deficit and growing debt will need to include cuts to entitlements, such as a plan to raise the minimum age for receiving Social Security from 65 to 70.

The fix is in, folks. What in the hell can we do about it?

Update: "Rivlin and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., are co-chairs of the fiscal commission’s working group on Social Security, Medicare and other mandatory spending programs."

Originally posted to Willa Rogers on Sun Oct 10, 2010 at 01:30 PM PDT.

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