At a press conference earlier this afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) officially released his deficit reduction plan, Back in Black--not to be confused with the Peterson-Pew report Getting Back in the Black. The package offers a wide range of savings options, totaling a little over $9 trillion. The plan is extremely detailed -- as Sen. Coburn put it today, it offers “detail like you’ve never seen”-- and totals more than 600 pages.
According to Sen. Coburn's website, the plan "saves roughly $3 trillion from entitlements, $3 trillion from discretionary and other accounts, $1 trillion in defense, $1 trillion from ending some spending in the tax code, and about $1 trillion in interest costs", would reduce the size of government by about 25 percent, and would balance the budget within ten years.
Highlights of the plan include:
- $1 trillion in defense spending cuts, including reforms to TRICARE, reduced spending on lower priority programs, and other changes to weapon systems, troop levels, and DoD staffing
- Elimination and/or modification of many existing tax expenditures, saving a little over $962 billion over ten years
- Switching to the chained CPI to more accurately measure inflation (for more on the chained CPI, see our policy paper)
- Social Security reform, including indexing the retirement age to longevity and reducing benefits for higher earners
- $2.64 trillion in savings from reforms to Medicare and Medicaid. These changes include increasing the Medicare eligibility age, increasing and further means-testing Medicare premiums, fully offsetting the doc fix, and saving $770 billion from block-granting Medicaid as called for in Rep. Ryan's budget proposal, among many other health care reductions.
We applaud Sen. Coburn for releasing a plan with this level of detail that puts all areas of the budget on the table. Sen. Coburn also deserves credit for going through the budget line by line, agency by agency, and offered specifics on exactly where the plan’s savings would come from. However, just proposing a plan is no longer enough--policymakers need to work together to reach a bipartisan compromise that can be enacted into law. Hopefully, with his ideal plan now released, Sen. Coburn (and other lawmakers) can work toward a bipartisan compromise that reduces our debt as a share of the economy.
Be sure to check out CRFB's Deficit Reduction Plan Comparison Tool very shortly to see how Sen. Coburn's plan compares to the other roughly 30 fiscal plans.