So... What Happened Today With That Deficit Commission?

Posted: Nov 10, 2010 3:23 PM
The Draft Document to the Co-Chairs' Proposal to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (whew!) is out today. While this is very preliminary, it is going to provide us with a good picture of what will come out of Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction committee. To vastly oversimplify what's come out today, it would be good news for conservatives.

The report takes tax code reform very seriously, to the point of proposing a three-tier, low-rate plan that is so serious as to be politically unfeasible, hitting a top marginal rate of 23% with a corporate rate of 26% (too high, but better than the status quo). On the more realistic side, the report endorses in large part the Wyden-Gregg proposals that were unveiled earlier this year (described here as "a promising start").

Other recommentations that conservatives can be happy with:

• Elimination of all earmarks
• Federal salary freeze
• Medical malpractice reform
• Overall goals of lower tax rates
• A reorganized "doc fix"

On the side that conservatives can and should be skeptical of, the report recommends a fifteen cent gas tax increase, as well as recommending vague, equivocating "second-best" options like "consider other reforms to lower spending" on health care.

Their Social Security reforms, much talked about and feared by the Left, result in a progressive change to the benefit formulas, indexing retirement ages, an increase in the payroll tax cap amongst others. These are some of the hardest recommendations, and may be very hard for conservatives to swallow. But a lot of it will be necessary for closing the Social Security deficit.

Overall, the recommendations that were made public today should be encouraging for conservatives. Whether they'll ever seriously see the light of day in Congress is another story.