Lawmakers Uneasy With Plan to Cut Deficit

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A plan to cut the nation's deficit through a combination of shrinking the federal government and raising taxes is being met with mixed reviews on Capitol Hill. The plan cuts $4 trillion over the next decade, but it's making lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feel uncomfortable.

The draft proposal released by President Barack Obama's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has lawmakers loosening their collars and special interest groups squealing. However, commission co-chair, Erskine Bowles, said the fiscal path America is taking leads to one place -- disaster. And she also said the solution lies in a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.

"This debt is like a cancer that will truly destroy this country from within if we don't fix it," Bowles said.

CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody offered more insight on the proposals to slash the deficit.  Click play for his comments, following Jennifer Wishon's report.

Bowles said all of the tax money coming into Washington, D.C. this year is being spent just on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. That means the government is borrowing money to spend on everything else, including defense, education, infrastructure, etc.

To change course, the commission recommends:

  • Eventually raising the retirement age from 67 to 69.
  • Cutting Social Security payments to high income seniors.
  • Trimming defense spending by $100 billion.
  • Eliminating 10 percent of the federal workforce.
  • Raising the federal gas tax 15 cents a gallon.

The group also suggests simplifying the tax code which would also lower income taxes.

However, under one proposal, the commission suggested getting rid of all tax deductions, including the one for home mortgages and charitable giving -- although other proposals would keep some of those deductions.

"We present this only as a guide and a directive of where we could or should go," said Alan Simpson, commission co-chair.

It's a guide that includes something for everyone to support and everyone to hate. Also, getting all the commission's suggestions through Congress will be nearly impossible. Even commission members are leery about some of the proposals.

"I am vehemently against that proposal," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the commission's recommendations, "simply unacceptable."

However, Oklahoma Republican senator and commission member Tom Coburn told The Oklahoman newspaper, "None of this is going to be pain free."

"We're on the most predictable path to economic crisis that I can imagine," Bowles said.

Because of the fragile state of the U.S. economy, the commission recommends delaying any cuts for two years.

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Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.