The chairmen of a bipartisan task force convened by President Obama to develop recommendations on how to reduce the $13.7 trillion national debt has released a number of draft proposals to cut the deficit, including spending cuts, an end of some tax breaks, and raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits. Co-chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the commission's proposals have been criticized by many of Obama's fellow Democrats, including outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "We're going to take it out on senior citizens?" said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who was appointed to the panel by Pelosi. "I am virulently against that proposal." Some key elements of the plan include raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075, reductions in Medicare payments, and raising the federal gas tax, now 18.4 cents a gallon, by 15 cents. Thomas Jefferson Street blogger John Farrell likes the plan. "A smart, fair path toward controlling government spending and paying down debt," he calls it, "which still preserves the best features of the social safety net." [Read more about the deficit and national debt.]
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