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Eric Cantor with Barack Obama

Greg Sargent has some key developments in the Reid-McConnell proposal that make it even worse. That commission it sets up? It's designed specifically to "reform" Social Security and Medicare.
Larry Kudlow, who’s plugged in with Congressional Republicans, scoops a key new detail about the emerging Mitch McConnell proposal to transfer control of the debt ceiling to the president:
McConnell is negotiating now with Sen. Harry Reid for a large-scale package that will allow the debt ceiling to rise unless overturned by a two-thirds vote. If a White House debt-ceiling deal comes through with $1.5 trillion of spending cuts, that will be part of the package. Right now, it’s not completed because enforceable spending caps have not been determined.

The key part of the new McConnell package is a joint committee to review entitlements in a massive deficit-reduction package. Unlike the Bowles-Simpson commission, this committee will be mandated to have a legislative outcome — an actual vote — that will occur early next year. No White House members. Evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. No outsiders. This will be the first time such a study would have an expedited procedure mandated with no amendments permitted. Also, tax reform could be air-dropped into this committee’s report.

[...]If I’m reading this right, what this means is that in order to make the McConnell proposal more palatable to conservatives, there would be a mandated bipartisan review of entitlements next year. The source tells me that if a majority of the committee can agree on recommendations for entitlement reform, the proposal would also mandate a Congressional vote on those recommendations.

The semi-good news is that it puts the onus on members of Congress to actually vote to cut Social Security and Medicare, which they hate to do. It's unclear right now whether congressional Democrats would line up with this. It could potentially mean putting off any cuts to Social Security and Medicare in this package, putting that vote off to later, when the commission comes up with its recommendations. But that's not entirely clear yet.

The discretionary spending cuts that Reid and McConnell are supposedly talking about are somewhere in the $1 to $1.7 trillion range. Cuts of that size in discretionary spending have to come from social insurance programs—there's literally no where else in the budget to go unless defense is decimated. Which ain't gonna happen. It's becoming increasingly clear that we're not going to get out of this current hostage situation without a big hole started in the safety net. The only clean option, McConnell's original proposal, seems to be a dead letter, and President Obama is not going to let this opportunity to make cuts pass him up.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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