Deficit panel leaders propose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, upping the retirement age to 69 and scuttling mortgage interest deductions … but if all that flies, so will elephants!

A deficit can crimp anybody’s lifestyle, especially those playing the back nine in the autumn of their lives.
Co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, leaders of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, launched a daring assault on mushrooming federal deficits today, proposing reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security, gradually raising the retirement age to 69 and taking aim at popular tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction. As part of a proposal to wrestle $1-trillion-plus deficits under control, their plan would also curb the growth of Medicare.
So much for the syrupy shadows of retirement. The golden years ain’t what they used to be. Uncle Sam no longer will be splattering money around as prolifically as pasta sauce in an Italian restaurant kitchen.
Granted, forcing people to work longer when they live longer doesn’t sound unreasonable except to those who expect to spend the remainder of their lives swinging in a hammock the moment they turn 62.
But it’s a fallacy that all walks of life are living longer. The people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. As one pundit put it, we’re telling janitors to work until they’re almost 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever. Of course, the fact that lawyers live longer is further validation that only the good die young.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention, no need to panic and start looking for loose change in the sofa.
The plan likely won’t win the support from 14 commission members that is needed to force a debate in Congress.
Bowles and Simpson were among the first to acknowledge that their plan won’t raise a.mighty Hallelujah chorus.
“We’ll both be in a witness protection program when this is all over, so look us up,” Simpson said.
“We’re not asking anybody to vote for this plan,” Bowles said. “This is a starting point.”
I’d call it a false start.

Advertisements