WASHINGTON—The co-chairmen of a deficit commission established by the White House would seek to limit federal spending on health care, gradually raise the retirement age and lower the corporate tax rate to 26%, according to a draft set of proposals released Wednesday.
The sweeping plan is likely to provoke a political firestorm. It touches many of the third rails of politics, including defense spending, Social Security and middle-class tax breaks long seen as inviolate.
It isn't a final document. The co-chairs—Erskine Bowles, a chief of staff in the Clinton White House, and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming—presented the draft plan to members of the 18-strong committee earlier Wednesday. It was presented as a series of options that could be taken together or considered individually as a way to bring down federal spending.
Members of the panel emerged from the meeting saying they thought the proposals were "provocative," but they failed to endorse them outright.
According to the draft, the plan identifies $200 billion in discretionary-spending cuts by 2015, with half the savings from reductions to Pentagon spending. It would place limits on tax breaks for homeowners by removing deductions of interest on second homes, home-equity loans and mortgages worth more than $500,000.
For businesses, the plan would lower the corporate tax rate but remove a number of deductions currently available. It would make permanent the research-and-development tax credit. The federal gasoline-tax rate would start to rise from 2013, increasing by 15 cents a gallon at that stage. Federal subsidies to agribusinesses would begin to be slashed by $3 billion a year.
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In my opinion, it still won't be enough. Cutting $200 billion is still going to leave us with a relatively large deficit.