The ink wasn’t dry on the President’s Debt Reduction Panel co-chairmen’s report before all wings of both major political parties and the special interest lobbies of every stripe began screaming. That says to me, the co-chairmen got something right.

Several months ago, some Republicans in Congress proposed a bipartisan panel to examine federal spending … all spending … and to come up with recommendations to reduce the outgo that has created our staggering deficit. Nothing “off the table.” Who could say “no” to that?

The President endorsed the idea. So the same Republicans that proposed it immediately opposed it. Undeterred, the President took the ball and ran with it. He named former GOP Sen. Allan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles to co-chair, appointed a balanced membership and sent ‘em off to work.

While the committee has not completed it’s job … but is expected to in December … the co-chairs wrote their own brief report based on a couple of months of hearings and deliberation, dropping it on the table with some media fanfare. The outcry began immediately!

In the interest of full disclosure, the Mrs. and I receive small Social Security checks monthly and take advantage of our Medicare entitlements. So, we’ve got a dog or two in the fight. New restrictions or reductions in either … or both … programs would likely result in some personal hardship. I’m also a veteran.

So saying, I endorse the draft report … including an across-the-board reduction of military spending by 10% or so. To do otherwise would be fiscal insanity.

In addition to gradually raising the entitlement age to 69 or 70, one change to both Social Security and Medicare that has to be made … must be made … is means testing. The more income you have, the smaller the government check should be. The purpose of the two programs was to augment the lower income most of us have in retirement and to underwrite some of the medical problems most older Americans experience later in life so what income we do have isn’t wiped out with medical expenses.

If your retirement income is say, $100,000+ or so a year, taxpayers should not be sending a monthly check of $1,500-2,000 to pay the country club dues or the mortgage on a second home. Social Security was meant to help with basic living costs, not subsidize a higher standard of living.

Same with Medicare. Above a certain income level, people should be required to buy one of the affordable Medigap policies that take care of many of the expenses Medicare doesn’t. Again, Medicare was to cover the basics, not be a medical security blanket.

As for military spending, sizeable cuts are absolutely necessary and absolutely doable. I believe in a strong military and a technologically modern defense. But reducing the number of standing American military overseas by a third to a half won’t diminish either. Nor will ending our involvement in two unwinnable wars. Complete revamping of our military procurement and weapons systems programs is long overdue. Way, way overdue. We’re talking billions here. If you’re trying to reduce outgo by about $4 trillion, as bank robber Willie Sutton used to say, “Go where the money is.”

I hope the full Debt Reduction panel’s final recommendations run along the same lines as this draft report … cuts in all areas and in amounts that are meaningful. It must be done!

Problem is, every member of Congress will fight it. Even the “Tea Party” types who ran on promises of “cutting spending” and “balancing the budget.” Their mail boxes will fill up, they won’t be able to keep paper in the trays of their fax machines and irate emails will likely blow up the Capital Hill Internet system. They’re going to hear screams from everybody. Most members will look at their own futures rather than the nation’s. And they’ll cave.

Sen. Simpson said at the report’s unveiling, “We’ve harpooned every whale and a few minnows, too. Everybody’s ox got gored.” That’s why the outcry will be so loud and from so many sources. That’s the best proof this is the right course of action.

If we don’t do this … and do it quickly … overwhelming evidence from the most respected sources shows we will default on all our obligations at home and abroad and become just another debtor nation within the next two to three years.

We became the great nation we are because we were willing to pay any price to keep ourselves free and to put our lives on the line for just causes to maintain that liberty. Are we going to let 250 years of our heritage crumble because we won’t pay our bills?

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