BOSTON (TheStreet) -- A bipartisan commission tasked with tackling the federal deficit weighed in yesterday with a series of initial proposals that include sweeping budget cuts and changes to how Social Security benefits.
A draft proposal, released Wednesday by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, calls for $200 billion in budget reductions; $11.2 billion shaved from domestic programs; and $100.1 billion from defense spending by 2015. In total, it claims the full slate of recommendations could trim $4 trillion by 2020.
The commission, chaired by Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Senate Republican Whip Alan Simpson of Wyoming, made public a report detailing the ideas under consideration. The recommendations need approval by 14 of the commission's 18 members before they are delivered to Congress.
Among the recommendations are cutting the budgets for Congress and the White House by 15%, saving about $800 million in 2015.
Other initiatives include: freezing federal salaries, bonuses and other compensation at nondefense agencies for three years; cutting the federal work force by 10% and by 200,000 by 2020; eliminating 250,000 nondefense contractors; capping the number of federal political appointments at 2,000; cutting the federal travel budget and promoting video conferencing and webcasting as alternatives; and trimming the federal vehicle budget, which accounts for 652,000 cars and trucks and almost $4 billion annually to operate (the proposal would require a 20% reduction in the vehicle budget for all agencies except the Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service).Also under consideration is merging the Department of Commerce and Small Business Administration (into the Department of Commerce and Innovation) and trimming the combined budget by 10%, roughly $1 billion in 2015.
Also on the potential chopping block are reductions in foreign aid; eliminating the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, saving $1.8 billion in 2015; and doing away with all legislative earmarks. New funding to the Department of Energy's applied research on fossil fuels would be zeroed out, as would funding for commercial spaceflight (NASA otherwise plans to spend $6 billion over the next five years to spur the development of American commercial spaceflight).