April 22, 2013

Regarding the April 19 news article “Bowles-Simpson 2.0 aims to cut through deficit debate”:

I sympathize with my fellow Democrats who oppose deficit reduction at the expense of seniors and other vulnerable Americans served by the safety net, especially when Republicans press for tax cuts for the wealthy at the same time. Yet it has long been understood that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable in their present forms and that some adjustments would eventually be necessary to save them for future generations. In this context, hard choices are far more palatable.

President Obama’s proposed switch to using the “chained consumer price index” to slow the growth of Social Security benefits is not as upsetting in that context. Also, as the article indicated, Bowles-Simpson 2.0 includes provisions to ease the effects of raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and for otherwise protecting the poor. I would also like to see means-testing applied to some changes to ensure that negative effects would fall on those better able to absorb them.

But my support for a deal will quickly disappear if Republicans continue to insist on a plan that goes too far to the detriment of vulnerable groups and rewards the wealthy with tax reductions.

Bill Conrad, Alexandria