While nearly all politicians in Washington have been spending their time posturing to their bases regarding the impending debt ceiling disaster, one guy has actually been working to solve the problem. He’s Senator Tom Coburn (R – OK).
His 9 trillion dollar deficit reduction plan has a little bit of everything: spending cuts that republicans will love but democrats will hate; increased revenues that democrats will love but republicans will hate; and entitlement reform that the American people will hate.
Among the proposed cuts in Coburn’s plan include $974.1 billion in cuts from the general government, as well as billions from Congress and the Executive Office of the President. Those reductions would be achieved partially by cutting 300,000 jobs from the federal workforce, and imposing a three-year pay and bonus freeze for federal workers and Congress members.
The proposal also targets more than a trillion dollars from the Department of Defense budget, as well as hundreds of billions from the departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, and Education. NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration and numerous other government agencies are also hit with billions in reductions.
The senator, however, does not limit his proposed savings to spending cuts alone: the plan also carves out more than $990 billion that could be saved by overhauling the tax code and eliminating “the most egregious tax giveaways.”
“Politicians love to play the tax code because it benefits the politicians,” Coburn said on Monday.
Among the proposed tax reforms include the elimination of breaks that are duplicative of government funding for local economic initiatives, the elimination of special interest corporate tax breaks, and cutting what Coburn describes as “misguided subsidies” for some clean energy initiatives.
Coburn’s plan – the most expansive such proposal put forth so far – also calls for major reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that would amount to more than $2.5 trillion in cuts over the next ten years.
Some of the reforms to Medicare and Medicaid include raising the eligibility age for Medicare recipients, tracking high prescribers and prescription drug users to detect abuse, enrolling low-income seniors in Medicaid managed care programs, and reducing subsidies to teaching hospitals for graduate medical education.
For Social Security, Coburn proposes restraining benefits for high earners, raising the retirement age, and adjusting cost-of-living calculations to more accurately reflect inflation.
I urge both parties to at least use Coburn’s plan as a template to get a deal done. The plan may be far from perfect, but it’s the best thing I’ve seen so far.