Catfood Commission Chairmen to Postpone Vote on Recommendations

Via David Dayen at FDL, Alan Simpson are seemingly on the verge of wimping out on their draconian austerity recommendations for fear they can’t get 14 votes for their efforts to turn old people out into the streets.

Dayen writes:

For most of the week, you could see the wheels coming off of the Catfood Commission. First we heard that “they may surprise us,” but then there was this moving of the goalposts. Despite the fact that 14 of the 18 panel members had to agree to secure any recommendations which would go to Congress for a vote, now insiders were saying that a majority vote would show a signal of support.

But it’s clear that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson can’t even get that. They canceled a planned public meeting today in favor of more private negotiation. And reports emerged that the panel was simply deeply divided on the issues.

Dayen seems to think the whole plan to slash the social safety net is going down the tubes. I hope so. He ends with this:

The entire thing was an embarrassing display from two self-admiring cretins who wanted to use an economic crisis as a pretense to destroy the social safety net. Whatever they come up with will still represent a threat on that front, especially with a Republican House and who knows what in the White House, but this failure will damage the credibility for catfood. And progressive reports which show deficit reduction without touching the safety net are gaining in prominence.

“Who knows what in the White House” That’s a good one.

Truthout has information from one of the most liberal members of the Commission:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., says that as of this morning she had not been shown the latest proposal of the White House deficit commission, even as she says it is being “shopped around” by its co-chairs in an effort to get the support of a simple majority of its 18 members—not the support of 14 members as was its original goal.

Schakowsky confirmed this shift in an interview with OurFuture.org after giving a private briefing to members of the Tuesday Group, a meeting of progressive organization leaders convened by the Campaign for America’s Future.

Schakowsky has even proposed her own recommendations for reducing the deficit:

The Schakowsky Plan could reduce the deficit by $427.75 billion by 2015, without burdening the middle class. This would surpass the projection of the President’s target of $250 billion — an amount that the Commission’s plan would not even achieve.

Schakowsky’s plan also calls for:

•Raising taxes on the highest incomes.
•Modifying Social Security without changing benefits paid out.
•A $200 billion two-year stimulus investment, creating jobs and providing economic growth.
•Cutting farm subsidies and the Pentagon budget by more than $100 billion (both of which are also being proposed by the Commission, though Schakowsky goes further by cutting unnecessary weapons systems, reducing troop levels and other measures).
•Imposing taxes on corporations that out-source jobs and saving $132 billion from limiting or closing tax breaks on corporations.
•Letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire.
•Treating capitol gains and dividends as regular income, which could generate another $150 billion.
•Removing the caps on payroll taxes for employers and lifting the threshold above $106,000 for employees, and imposing a ‘legacy tax’ above the cap.
•And, most impressively, Schakowsky proposes a Public Option for health insurance, which would lower healthcare costs and allow the government to negotiate drug prices with the PHARMA industry to lower costs, like it does for the V.A. Drug costs could become a fraction of the amount that seniors now pay. Tellingly, both Bowles and Simpson acknowledge a Public Option may be necessary if costs don’t go down, so perhaps a P.O. could finally be on the way? There is certainly no indication health care costs will decrease in 2011.

In addition, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, says he’s not voting for the plan.

“It’s tough to ask anybody to support something that they just got, that’s this big,” Ryan said in an interview. The panel needs agreement from 14 of its 18 members to forward a plan to Congress.

“I don’t think there’s 14, and I don’t think I’ll be one of those 14,” Ryan said.

He said panel co-chairman Alan Simpson, a Republican former Wyoming senator, gave him an “oral Cliff notes” version of the plan today. Ryan said it didn’t include major changes from the panel leaders’ earlier draft proposal. Members will receive the plan in writing tomorrow, he said.

How soon can we send Alan “310 million tits” Simpson and Erskine “Sourpuss” Bowles packing? If I never have to see either of their disagreeable faces again, I’ll be very happy.

UPDATE: The Catfood Commission has postponed the vote until Friday.