Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Baaaack: The Catfood Commission


Not that it ever went away. The catfood commission is the Zombie that has been clawing at the door since Obama was elected:

Senators from both parties on Tuesday put new pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to turn the power to trim entitlement benefits over to an independent commission.

Seven members of the Senate Budget Committee threatened during a Tuesday hearing to withhold their support for critical legislation to raise the debt ceiling if the bill calling for the creation of a bipartisan fiscal reform commission were not attached. Six others had previously made such threats, bringing the total to 13 senators drawing a hard line on the committee legislation.

"You rarely do have the leverage to make a fundamental change," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who said he hasn't ruled out offering the independent commission legislation as an amendment to the healthcare reform bill.

The panel, which has been championed by Conrad and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H), would be tasked with stemming the unsustainable rise in debt.

Among its chief responsibilities would be closing the gap between tax revenue coming in and the larger cost of paying for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The Government Accountability Office recently reported the gap is on pace to reach an "unsustainable" $63 trillion in 2083.

You'll recall that during the transition period Obama was all for this commission (it was part of the Grand Bargain) and put it off until after health care reform was passed once people raised a fuss shortly after the inauguration:

McConnell said that when Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, had previously spoken to Republicans, they struck a tone that indicated a willingness to work on Social Security. "That was the place that I hoped, based on what both he and the chief of staff had said earlier, we'd be able to move on a bipartisan basis. He kind of brushed over that issue" in his speech, said McConnell.

He said he has noticed a change in the administration's rhetoric over the last few weeks. "They seem to be kind of back-pedaling some," he said.


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