President Obama's fiscal commission supposedly offers an "aggressive prescription" to reduce the federal deficit.
It's not just the debt and deficit, stupid. It's the size, scope and bloat of the federal government. Here's my plan:
1) Accept the political reality that a) taxes cannot be raised, and b) entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) cannot be cut for current or near-future beneficiaries. Voters will not vote to raise their taxes. Voters will not vote to cut off their money. And politicians want votes.
2) To solve this, we need to raise money. How? Fund current and near-term liabilities by selling federally owned land. The federal government owns more than one-fourth of the land in America. The land use could then be taxed, raising still more revenue.
3) Sell or contract out government enterprises, including, but not limited to, Amtrak, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hoover and Bonneville dams, operation of the post office, and government-run nuclear and other power plants.
4) Shut down several federal departments and agencies, including Energy, Education, Labor, HUD, HHS (including the Office of the Surgeon General), Interior (no need after government land is sold), Commerce and the EPA.
5) "Grandfather" workers 55 years of age or older into existing Medicare and Social Security plans. Offer those under 55 the option of setting up private savings accounts in lieu of Social Security. To replace Medicare, offer those under 55 the option of putting tax-free money into a health savings account. One can buy, as with car insurance, a policy with a high deductible for catastrophic care. Other medical needs would be paid for out of the HSA. Such an insurance policy would be cheap, and when people pay directly (not via a third party) for other medical needs, they're better shoppers, and providers would have to compete to provide quality affordable care.
6) Grandfather everyone currently on Medicaid, and then admit no more people and end the program at the federal level. Charity is not allowed by the Constitution, and it should be left to the states -- even better, left to the private and nonprofit sectors.
Once voters -- of whom many are on Social Security or will be within 10 years -- realize that they will not be "hurt," they'll be more likely to support this plan and to vote in politicians who do.