If you haven't heard, the president's debt commission - co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson - released its proposal earlier today. The short version: cut Social Security and Medicare while leaving much of our dysfunctional budget and tax structure as is. This is what I and other progressives have been warning against for almost a year now.
A few hours ago, I released this statement:
"If the co-chairs of the deficit commission were dead set on gutting Social Security and Medicare from the beginning, they could have saved time and effort by releasing this proposal the day after the commission was formed. Instead, we have waited through nine months of backroom negotiations only to be told that the American people will have to tighten their belts another notch while defense spending continues to grow and corporate bonuses continue to expand.
The path this plan would set is not good for the public. Congress should be having a realistic, productive conversation right now about how to reduce our budget deficit and maintain a secure retirement system for those who have earned it. Instead, we’re debating a proposal from a commission dedicated to cutting crucial social programs and reducing corporate and upper-income taxes at the same time. This is not a recipe for a healthier American economy.
Real budget reform must begin by allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of earners to expire, as they were always designed to do. This would reduce the debt by at least $680 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Department of the Treasury. The middle class has already been hit extremely hard by the ongoing economic downturn and the housing crisis. The last thing we should do is take more money out of their pockets in the name of a conservative tax cut agenda that favors the wealthy over the rest of us."
Congress is under no legal obligation to approve these recommendations, and I'm going to push as hard as I can to make sure they're defeated or ignored. I hope you'll join me. This is a big step in building momentum for a better, more progressive economy and protecting our successful retirement system for those who have earned it.