OUROPINION Curbing the federal debt – plenty of pain to go around

Brace yourself.

Recommendations to curb the burgeoning federal debt may bring its weight crashing down upon every American.

Co-chairmen of a deficit commission impaneled by President Barack Obama released preliminary recommendations, and the only good news may be equity; misery certainly will have company, because no one is spared.

A brief summary might read: Cut or eliminate entitlement programs, earmarks and government services, and raise taxes.

More specifically:

  • The retirement age to receive full Social Security benefits will continue to ratchet upward, to age 69 by 2075. In addition, cost-of-living increases would decline.
  • Annual costs increases for Medicare and Medicaid would be limited and the tax-free status of employerprovided health benefits would be restricted or eliminated.
  • Congressional pet projects commonly known as earmarks would end. The federal work force would be cut by 10 percent and most of the remaining workers would experience a threeyear pay freeze.
  • Many tax deductions would be eliminated and trimmed. Other taxes would increase, including an increased gas tax of 15 cents a gallon.
  • Recommendations also include cuts to farm subsidies, foreign aid and national defense.

As expected the hue and cry is widespread, including such strange bedfellows as liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans and a wide range of interest groups.

The full commission has not yet released its formal recommendations, but if the co-chairmen’s bow shot is any indication, the report will be widely resisted and vilified.

Inflicting pain on the voting public is no way to win support and influence re-election.

As a consequence, the deficit can is likely to be kicked further down the block, where the proverbial tab for our painless present will be paid by grandchildren.

The problem with inaction is circumstances will only get worse and, at some point, we will be the grandchildren.

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