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Catfood Commission: Simpson-Bowles Livestream

The Simpson-Bowles Commission is livestreaming now on CSPAN-3.

Members are giving their comments on the report, which can be found here: PDF.  A final vote will be taken on Friday.

I’ll be updating as each member speaks. So far:

  • Bowles: YES
  • Simpson: YES
  • Rivlin: YES
  • Gregg: LEAN YES
  • Cote: YES
  • Conrad: YES
  • Durbin: LEAN YES
  • Ryan: NO
  • Hensarling: LEAN NO
  • Becerra:  LEAN NO
  • Spratt:  NON-COMMITTAL
  • Schakowsky: NO
  • Fudge: YES
  • Coburn:  NON-COMMITTAL

Baucus is not at the meeting — “dealing with taxes.”


Social Security Actuary’s Analysis of Bowles-Simpson plan: (PDF)



  • Balanced budget in 2035 (was 2037)
  • Debt as a percentage of GDP gets down to 41% in 2035
  • Establishes a debt stabilization process requiring President and Congress to take action if necessary to ensure budget remains on path to primary balance by 2015 and stable debt thereafter (Gregg)


  • Deeper discretionary reductions up front, bringing discretionary spending below 2008 levels in 2013 (was 2015) (Coburn, House R’s, Crapo)
  • $200B more in discretionary cuts over 10 years (Coburn)
  • Discretionary spending grows one percent below inflation after 2013 instead of nominal reductions in 2014 and 2015 (Spratt)
  • Establishes separate spending limits for security and non-security spending (instead of defense and non-defense; homeland security, veterans and international affairs included in security category along with defense) (Spratt, Conrad, Durbin, Becerra)
  • Added a spending limit for Overseas Contingency Operations (war) spending in addition to the stricter definition of OCO spending (Becerra)
  • Includes seven recommendations for immediate implementation to reduce spending by more than $50 billion and make government more efficient (Coburn)


  • Revenues reaches 21% in 2022 (not 2026) – $180B in 2020 (not $160B) (Conrad)
  • If tax reform results in revenues above the targets, the additional revenues would go to deficit reduction or tax cuts, not increased spending (Coburn, Crapo)
  • Adds principals that deficit reduction from tax reform must be accompanied by spending cuts that take effect first (Coburn, Crapo)
  • Add back tax expenditures in a more limited and progressive way – EITC, child tax credit, home mortgage interest, retirement savings, charitable contributions, (Conrad, Coburn, Crapo, Gregg, Durbin)
  • • Retain current treatment limiting taxation of Social Security benefits
  • Between add-backs and additional revenue, a higher share of tax expenditures goes to deficit reduction instead of lower rates (Conrad, Durbin)
  • Included a note in the tax section of report highlighting that cap gains and dividends could be taxed at a lower rate in this kind of package if it is paid for with higher rates on ordinary income. (Gregg)


  • Directs Social Security to develop a hardship exemption for increased eligibility age for up to 20% of workers based on factors such as the physical demands of labor and lifetime earnings (Stern, Durbin, Becerra)
  • Additional revenues into Social Security trust fund from indirect effects of broadening the base in tax reform such as phasing out income tax exclusion for employer provided health care can be used to moderate benefit and/or revenue provisions in the Social Security plan (Coburn, Crapo; Conrad, Durbin)


  • FEHB pilot for premium support proposal (Ryan)
  • Repeal Class Act (House R’s, Coburn)
  • Expedited process for review of Medicaid waivers by Center for Innovation (Coburn)
  • No Medicaid block grant for long term care or increase in Medicaid copayments (all D’s)
  • Dropped cuts in Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH)
  • Does not recommend caps on damages in medical malpractice reform (Durbin)
  • Dropped most IPAB expansions (except for elimination of provider carve-outs) (R’s)
  • Recommends capping and gradually phasing out health exclusion (Durbin, Conrad, Gregg, Crapo, Coburn)


  • Endorses a payroll tax holiday between $50-$100 billion in 2011 (Durbin)
  • Does not require reductions in discretionary spending below the fiscal year 2011 levels in fiscal year 2012 (Spratt, Durbin)
  • Recommends Congress establish a better trigger for unemployment benefits to provide extended benefits in a more timely and targeted manner (Durbin)


  • Recommends $15 billion in gross savings from agriculture is $10B, with $5 billion in savings used to extend agriculture disaster program for net savings of $10 billion (instead of $30 billion) (Conrad)
  • Recommended a review of budget concepts to more accurately reflect government liabilities (Coburn)
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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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