The ominousfrom the President's Debt Commission, titled "The Moment of Truth" delivers its hell fire and brimstone debt sermon from the get go.
"American cannot be great if we go broke," says the report. "Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs, and our workers will not be able to compete successfully for the jobs of the future without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our backs." ()
Laying out what it calls "unavoidable conclusions," the commission report put the problem is simple terms: "The problem is real. The solution will be painful. There is no easy way out. Everything must be on the table."
In a nutshell, here is their plan, as self-described "starting point for a serious national conversation."
- Cutting the deficit $3.8 trillion through 2020
- "Sharply reduce tax rates" and offset revenue by simplifying the tax code, abolishing the AMT and eliminating $1 trillion in tax reductions/credits/deductions
- Preserve Social Security by protecting poor seniors and distributing burden fairly. The report also calls for raising the retirement age.
- Achieve cost containment in Medicare through cost-sharing, malpractice reform, drug costs
- Cut government spending, including reducing the size of the federal work force
It's a stark and complex plan, that the commission itself hopes will force the debate in Washington. In introducing their plan today, the co-chairs had tough words for Washington and the interest groups who stake out tough positions on all sides.
Democrat Co-chair Erskine Bowles said "I think it's impossible to sweep our nation's debt problems under the carpet anymore."
But, Republican co-chair Alan Simpson, a former Senator, cautioned the 12 members of Congress on the committee. "Poised outside this chamber are the denizens of darkness," which he said were interest groups waiting "to shred this baby to bits." He cautioned them to be strong and force action on the plan.
Robert Hendin is a CBS News White House producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.