Proposed Commission Would Examine Entitlement Programs
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) on Monday introduced a bill to establish a permanent, bipartisan commission that would provide recommendations to maintain the future solvency of Medicare and Social Security, CQ Today reports (Wayne/George, CQ Today, 1/22).
The 15-member commission would include seven Republicans, seven Democrats and one independent. It would have to provide recommendations to Congress within one year and subsequently every five years.
Under the legislation, the recommendations would have to be reported by House and Senate committees within 60 days or be directly discharged to the House or Senate floor. The commission could recommend proposals to reduce costs and establish new taxes or fees.
According to Feinstein and Domenici, Medicare and Social Security expenditures will account for 60% of the federal budget by 2016, compared with 53% today.
Feinstein said, "These numbers are approaching D-Day. I think it's malfeasance to let these problems go on," adding, "We will be engaging in a major campaign to see that this is considered by the Senate" (Vaughan, CongressDaily, 1/22).
Domenici said that the public would "accept the recommendations of the commission," adding that "they're going to say, 'What's wrong with Congress,'" in the event that lawmakers do not take action on them.
According to CQ Today, the legislation represents "a perennial idea that has never advanced," in large part because of a disagreement between the Bush administration and Democrats over the privatization of Social Security (CQ Today, 1/22).