Filed Under:Health Insurance, Disability

Obama Administration: Super Committee Can Raise Taxes, Cut Entitlements

The Obama administration believes the "super committee" created by the new budget deal can raise revenue and take on entitlement program spending.

Jon Carson, a deputy assistant to President Obama, writes about that view in a White House blog entry on the super committee.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, a measure signed into law Tuesday, lifted the federal government's official debt limit and gave the government the legal authority to borrow the money needed to meet government obligations, such as the need to pay Social Security benefits recipients and holders of government debt.

The special commission provision requires the Republicans and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to appoint a total of 12 members to a special commission. The commission is supposed to recommend a package of changes that will cut spending by $1.5 trillion over 10 years by Thanksgiving.

Beth Mantz-Steindecker of Washington Analysis, Washington, a "buy side" research firm, suggested that the act could give new life to all budget reform proposals considered over the past few years.

Carson says voters might ask, "As the joint committee comes up with a plan, what's on the table?"

"Everything," Carson says. "The joint committee has no restrictions on where it can find ways to reduce our deficit. It can eliminate tax loopholes, just like it can cut spending. President Obama believes that the committee should listen to the vast majority of Americans who support a balanced approach that includes revenue."

Carson's fictional voters say the first $1 billion in budget changes included in the package will be made up entirely of spending cuts.

"Will the second round be as well?" the voters ask.

"The short answer is no," Carson says. "The committee can look at the entire budget including revenue and entitlements. And the president has made it clear that he will only accept a balanced approach."

Republicans may be more inclined to support "a balanced approach" than they have been in recent months, because a budget act "trigger provision" will impose across-the-board cuts if Congress fails to negotiate enough budget cuts, Carson says.

The 2-year extension of the tax breaks created by the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Relief Act of 2001 is set to expire Jan. 1, 2013, Carson says.

"If Congress does vote to extend these special tax breaks, the president can use his veto pen to end them," Carson says. "This gives Republicans added incentive to compromise on an approach that balances spending reductions and closing tax loopholes."

Other federal budget coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health:

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