By Mike Lillis - 08/11/11 10:05 PM EDT
As the members of the bipartisan supercommittee ready their search for $1.5 trillion in deficit savings, one House Democrat is offering $2 trillion worth of suggestions.
Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley on Thursday submitted a sweeping budget plan to the 12 newly appointed members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Quigley said his blueprint — which proposes 60 steps to reduce deficit spending by $2 trillion over the next decade — would give the panel “a running start” as it prepares to craft an austerity package that’s due by Thanksgiving.
Quigley’s plan — which he describes as “reinventing government” — aims to slash deficit spending through a long combination of program cuts and tax-revenue hikes. The proposal specifies $700 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years, for instance, including troop reductions in Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of Asia.
Tweaking the entitlements, Quigley would empower the government to negotiate drug prices under Medicare’s prescription drug program, and hike the income level subject to the payroll tax that funds Social Security.
On the tax-revenue side, Quigley proposes hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by cutting subsidies to oil companies and closing tax loopholes for companies doing business overseas. He would also eliminate tax credits currently enjoyed by owners of vacation homes.
“This isn’t the Democratic proposal, and this isn’t the Republican proposal,” Quigley said. “This is a necessary, common-sense proposal that allows the government to pay our debts and move forward in a fair, bipartisan, and transparent way.”
As part of the package to raise the nation’s debt limit, Congress cut more than $900 billion in federal spending up front, and created the supercommittee to come up with at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filled out the deficit panel’s roster Thursday, appointing fellow Democratic Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.) to the high-stakes committee.
The three Democrats join nine others appointed earlier in the week by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Meanwhile, the centrist Blue Dog Democrats are urging the members of the panel to “put politics aside and work across party lines to develop a fair and feasible path to fixing our long-term debt.”
“As policy makers we have a clear choice in front of us,” eight Blue Dogs wrote in a Thursday letter to the committee. “Pursue a partisan approach that caters to the political extremes, or work together as Americans to put our nation’s fiscal house in order.”