The chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan deficit-reduction panel, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Clinton budget official Erskine Bowles, released their final report on Wednesday, urging big cuts in military spending and Social Security along with the elimination of popular tax deductions. But the proposals won't go to Congress without the approval of at least 14 of the panel's 18 members, and so far only two, Sens. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Kent Conrad (D-ND), have said they'll vote yes on Friday. After months of effort, has the commission's work been for naught? (Watch Neil Cavuto say the panel should be commended)
The tax changes are deal-killers: Simpson and Bowles have at least achieved "the fruits of true bipartisanship," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air — both parties hate the proposals. Personally, I don't see anything "outrageous or surprising," and some ideas, like raising the retirement age, "should have been done years ago." But "the elimination of two major tax breaks," especially the home-mortgage deduction, "will almost certainly doom this proposal."
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Congress was bound to mess it up: Even if the panel accepts the plan, says Alex Pareene in Salon, it's hard to see "sensible" reforms such as "the elimination of the mortgage-interest deduction making it through Congress without suddenly becoming the expansion of the mortgage-interest deduction." This commission has just been an exercise by "Washington graybeards" meant to demonstrate their "seriousness."
"The power of civility to save the debt panel report"
Simpson-Bowles has already succeeded: The proposals may not be approved, but "make no mistake," Simpson and Bowles have achieved "something historic," says David Broder in The Washington Post. As Bowles proclaimed, "the era of deficit denial in Washington is over." The panel also managed to changed the debate in D.C., making reform of the tax system a priority.
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