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Bowles: Congress must 'face up' to deficit issue

Posted November 15, 2010

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— The co-chairman of President Barack Obama's deficit reduction commission said Monday that Congress has to "face up" to a red-ink problem that threatens America's future.

Democrat Erskine Bowles told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he and Republican co-chairman Alan Simpson recommended sharp spending cuts because "the path we're on is unsustainable. The debt we are building up is like a cancer."

"We face the most predictable economic crisis in history. We can't stay on the path we are on," Bowles told WRAL News following a meeting in Chapel Hill of the North Carolina Military Foundation. "I think everybody in Washington realizes that, and so they've been looking for someone to come and honestly tell the truth – how can we address the problems? That's what we tried to do."

The pair endorsed a series of proposals, including slashing the federal work force, reducing the tax deduction on home mortgage interest, cutting the defense budget and raising the gas tax and other taxes, to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

"The problems are real, the solutions are painful and it's going to take shared sacrifice to really get to a conclusion," Bowles said.

The proposal that got the most attention involved changes to the Social Security system, such as raising the retirement age. The plan would gradually shift the age for people to start collecting payments from the system from 65 to 69.

Bowles: Congress must 'face up' to deficit

"We have to address the long-term solvency of Social Security," Bowles said. "There's no question that Social Security runs out of money in 2037, and it goes cash negative in just five years."

Obama initially was noncommittal, calling for a close review of the report, but the recommendations drew harsh criticism from members of both parties.

"We've had positive and negative responses from lawmakers on both sides. I think everybody believes that what we put forward is a very serious proposal, that it makes a lot of good common sense," Bowles said.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said she would wait for the final report before making any decisions.

"We have serious problems in our country. We are out of money. We have got to come together, Democrats and Republicans, and make some really tough choices," said Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat. "This report lays out a lot of areas that we can really begin an earnest debate on."

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  • Plenty Coups Nov 16, 2010

    "Then again if everyone payed the same in a retail sales tax who would the government be dependent on."

    They'd be dependent on people being honest enough to report all sales and not cheating(LOL)as well as making sure the percentage taxed is actually enough to sustain the country.

  • ykm Nov 16, 2010

    Person "A" makes 50 thou per year and pays 30%, that equals 15 thou in taxes leaving him w/ 35 thou. Person "B" makes 250 thou and pays 35% (87,500). That still leaves him w/ 162,500 to spend.
    Which one is protected more? Who is the government more dependent on? All ya have to do is look at who was bailed out. Then again if everyone payed the same in a retail sales tax who would the government be dependent on.

  • Plenty Coups Nov 16, 2010

    "They made huge sacrifices of their time at the expense of their family and friends, over many years no less."

    So do the other professions. They put their lives on the line. Teachers are also well educated at personal sacrifice yet poorly paid in comparison to other professions requiring a degree.

  • Plenty Coups Nov 16, 2010

    "most of the professions you mention don't require a college degree"

    That's not the point even though teaching does require a college degree and in some cases, two degrees after high school. Police officers and firemen often require two year degrees and specialty schools. The point is, is that someone making say 250 thousand a year should pay 5 to 10 percent more of their income in taxes. A higher percentage.

    "If they make such huge sacrifices, why should much of what they make be taken away from them?"

    We're not talking about 90% tax rates here for the rich. I agree that wealthy people often attain success after hard work. No one is suggesting that they can't then enjoy themselves. They will still have plenty of money left after paying a little more in taxes. Ex. Person "A" makes 50 thou per year and pays 30%, that equals 15 thou in taxes leaving him w/ 35 thou. Person "B" makes 250 thou and pays 35% (87,500). That still leaves him w/ 162,500 to spend.

  • jdupree Nov 16, 2010

    Well, Gomer Bowles or is it Erskine Pyle, NC voters over the years have judged not to elect you when you ran for most elected offices. Wonder what we saw that Obama missed? You can suggest a quick and dirty fix to the budget or you can take the time to go completely through it and make real cuts. Just picking two areas is not the type detail this needs. This was a Mayberry type solution.

  • signothefish Nov 16, 2010

    Plenty Coups, most of the professions you mention don't require a college degree. Do you think most wealthy people have money just handed to them? The majority worked very long hours, made wise investments after considerable research, saved instead of spending, basically everything that is required of a person to make them wealthy. They made huge sacrifices of their time at the expense of their family and friends, over many years no less. Many of them have also have advanced college degrees. If they make such huge sacrifices, why should much of what they make be taken away from them? Your kind of thinking is toxic... it rewards the less motivated at the expense of the highly motivated.

  • Plenty Coups Nov 16, 2010

    "PS. Why would anyone making less than $250,000/yr object to higher taxes on the super wealthy. I just don't get it."

    I think those who make less than that who object to it are brainwashed by ideological propaganda. The old "rich people provide jobs" slogan preached by right wing radio and TV personalities, as if poorer people should be denied the opportunity to also acquire wealth and better themselves.

  • Plenty Coups Nov 16, 2010

    "When did you get the right to demand that successful people be taxed at a higher rate than yourself?"

    Rich, or as you put it, "successful people" can afford to be taxed at a little higher rate then those less affluent. Why? Because they will already have a much better standard of living than those "less successful" people who would include military personnel, teachers, policemen, highway workers, firefighters etc., who perform no less of a valuable service to society. The rich benefit from these services and the stable society provided for them so that they had the opportunity and means to acquire their wealth. These infrastructure improvements disproportionately benefit them, allowing their companies to thrive and transport goods, as well as enabling them to have an educated workforce to help them acquire their wealth. Studies show that wealthy individuals spend proportionally less of their income on basic necessities when compared to the less affluent (most other Americans).

  • Snookyone Nov 16, 2010

    Deadhead: The lower income brackets pay a larger percentage of their income to taxes than the upper levels. THAT is where the inequity lies.

    PS. Why would anyone making less than $250,000/yr object to higher taxes on the super wealthy. I just don't get it.

  • The Deadhead Nov 16, 2010

    pbjbeach,

    You are FOS. So you want a tax increase? Have you ever completed a 1040 tax form? Those in lower income brackets, aka the "poor," get MORE tax credits and tax deductions.

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