Then came the discussion of the pain—pain Bowles and Simpson acknowledge gravely and constantly. In their deficit-reduction plan, all budgets would be eventually balanced, all ledgers in the black. Earmarks would no longer exist, nor would tax expenditures. More Americans would pay federal income taxes, if at lower rates.
Then cuts, lots of cuts, cuts making up more than half of the chairs' proposal. Seniors would work longer and get less from Social Security in many cases, for instance. Dozens of federal programs would face the axe. The National Zoo would start charging admission.
As much as Bowles and Simpson like talking about the deficit, they like talking about cutting spending even more. At the press conference, one reporter queried the two about the arcane issue of federalizing municipal debt.
Bowles responded with an answer about earmarks.
"$1.1 trillion every year!" Simpson said.
If they had their way, they would ban them as part of their plan to wrench America back into black. And they want you to know it.
Correction, Nov. 30, 2010: The original version stated that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is composed of 14 members. Return to the corrected sentence.