bowles simpson

President Barack Obama with Co-Chairs of National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform         Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson

Just in case you were worried that Washington might have accidentally stopped talking about Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson, or the deficit for a whole day the dynamic duo is trying to grab the spotlight today with a brand new deficit outline.

Not surprisingly much of their proposed deficit reduction would come from cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits. They want to increase Medicare premiums and cost sharing. They also call for cutting Social Security by adopting the chained CPI. None of these proposed cuts are new.

What is new is that their plan now calls for another $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction. While they acknowledge roughly $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction has been adopted since their last plan, they are now claiming we need $5 trillion instead of $4 trillion in deficit reduction. Effectively, the main goal of this new plan is to try to shift the goalposts.

The so-called deficit hawks’ real goal has always been to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits. According to Simpson, Social Security is a “milk cow with 310 million tits.”  So they need a deficit target that sounds big enough and scary enough to justify cutting these programs despite the electorate’s strong opposition.

Photo by The White House under Public Domain