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Fiscal panel offers spending, tax reforms

Nov. 10, 2010 at 4:03 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Proposals for spending cuts, tax reforms and changes to Social Security are included in a preliminary report released by President Obama's fiscal commission.

The report, released Wednesday, proposes capping discretionary spending, setting up tax rate reductions while expanding the tax base, raising the retirement age from 65 to 67 gradually and reducing the rate of increase of Social Security benefits, The Hill reported.

The report is the "chairmen's mark," meaning it was approved by the panel's co-chairmen, former Clinton administration chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., but not approved by the 18 members of the commission.

The commission is to make its recommendations by Dec. 1.

President Obama will wait until the commission finishes its work before commenting, White House spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

"He respects the challenging task that the (co-chairmen) and the commissioners are undertaking and wants to give them space to work on it," Burton said. "These ideas, however, are only a step in the process towards coming up with a set of recommendations and the president looks forward to reviewing their final product early next month."

The preliminary draft includes five basic recommendations, including:

-- Enacting discretionary spending caps and providing $200 billion in domestic and defense savings by 2015.

-- Passing tax reform that would reduce rates, simplify the code, broaden the base and reduce the deficit.

-- Addressing Medicare issues through savings from payment reforms, cost-sharing malpractice reform and long-term measures to control healthcare cost growth.

-- Realizing savings from farm subsidies, and military and civil service retirement.

-- Ensuring Social Security solvency for the next 75 years while reducing poverty among seniors.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, called the draft a good start.

"It shows the size of the problem, which is massive," said Gregg, who is retiring at the end of this term. "This is the draft for discussion purposes to get us all thinking."

"It's a lot to digest. I support the goal," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Senate Finance Committee chairman, adding, "(We're) at the early stages."

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