Something worth interrupting a vacation for: U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and a restored Gang of Six this morning presented a $3.7 trillion deficit-cutting plan in a bid to couple the mix of cuts and revenue increases to a Senate solution to the debt-ceiling argument.
“Some of the people who don’t want to solve the problem will be critical of it,” said Chambliss, who called only a few minutes ago. The senator said the plan had yet to be presented to House Republicans, where the proposal – based on a bipartisan commission’s recommendations last year – is expected to come in for some rough sledding.
Chambliss reported 50 senators in attendance at the morning session. Among them was Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who months ago had left the bipartisan negotiations led by Chambliss and Mark Warner, D-Va. Coburn endorsed the results, and Chambliss said the presentation won a warm, bipartisan reception.
The plan, said Chambliss, is to couple the deficit-reduction outline to the proposal by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, that allows President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval — averting future deadlines like the one faced by the federal government on Aug. 2, when it will lose its authority to borrow more money, and add to a $14 trillion deficit.
Chambliss said $2.7 trillion in cuts would be accomplished through adjustments to Medicaid and Social Security. Details would be worked out through a bipartisan arrangement later, but Chambliss said an increase in the retirement age and means testing were likely to be adopted for Social Security.
Federal revenue would be increased $1.1 trillion over 10 years through changes to tax deductions currently granted for home mortgage interest, charitable giving, and health care insurance.
But overall, Chambliss said, the package would result in a lowering of personal and corporate income taxes. “We reduce spending, reform entitlements, and reform the tax code,” he said.
Increased economic growth would add another $1 trillion for an overall savings of $3.7 trillion.
The tea-party faction of the House Republican caucus has said it would not support any kind of revenue increases. But Chambliss thinks enough House Republicans might join with Democrats in the chamber to push the idea through.
“I’m at least cautiously optimistic that we’ve got another idea on the table,” he said.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider