WASHINGTON -- After rejecting the deficit-reduction recommendations offered by the chairmen of President Obama's debt commission last week, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has drafted a comprehensive proposal of her own.
Schakowsky's plan would reduce the deficit by $427.75 billion in 2015, without raising taxes on middle-class Americans or making cuts to federal expenditures that benefit them. As member of the 18-member debt commission, and outspoken critic of the draft report introduced by former Clinton administration chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, (R-Wyo.), her suggestions carry some weight.
"The middle class did not benefit from the Republican economic policies that led to the current deficit -- they were the victims," Schakowsky told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "They should not be called upon to pick up the tab."
Schakowsky's plan calls for a $110.7 billion cut in the defense budget, including troop level reduction and scaling back weapons production. The Simpson-Bowles proposal called for only $100 billion in military spending cuts.
Increasing economic stimulus was another focus of Schakowsky's agenda, which would provide $200 billion in measures to spur economic growth by funding unemployment insurance and federal job creation programs. She also calls for $132 billion in tax hikes from companies that ship jobs overseas.
Schakowsky's recommendations stand in stark contrast to the Bowles-Simpson recommendations which would reduce the rate of increase of Social Security benefits and gradually raise the retirement age, among other things.
"Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit," Schakowsky told reporters. "Addressing the Social Security issue as part of the deficit question is like attacking Iraq to retaliate for the September 11 attacks," said Schakowsky.
At least 14 of the 18 members of the deficit commission must agree to the report in order for it to proceed forward to a Congressional vote, something that looks increasingly unlikely.
Last Friday Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) announced he will work with seniors' organizations, unions, and members of Congress, to develop an alternative to the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. At her press event today, Schakowsky signaled a willingness to work with Sanders and others in further developing a viable alternative.
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