The co-leaders of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed cutting defense budgets, freezing military noncombat pay and federal civilian pay for three years, and reducing federal employment levels by 200,000. These proposals were a few of the some 50 recommendations aimed at reducing the deficit by $4 trillion by the year 2020. The Commission, appointed by President Obama via executive order in February, is “charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.” The recommendations by panel heads Erskine Bowles (chief of staff for former President Clinton) and former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), were released in draft form yesterday. The proposed cuts to defense are part of overall recommendations to reduce federal discretionary budgets (funding provided through the normal appropriations process in Congress). The defense proposal includes some of the savings identified by Secretary Gates in his $100 billion initiative, such as cutting overhead costs and doubling Gates’ planned defense contracting cuts. This is sure to bring criticism as the Secretary wants to use his savings not to lower the defense budget, but to reapply to modernization and force structure requirements. Some other potential defense reductions identified in the draft report were: 1) reduce procurement spending by 15 percent and RDT&E by 10 percent; 2) cut overseas bases by one-third; 3) cut spending on base support and facilities; 4) overhaul TRICARE and charge higher premiums and co-pays; 5) consolidate DoD’s retail activities; and 6) move dependent children of military personnel to local schools. The recommendation to freeze federal salaries, bonuses, and other compensation for three years would apply to DoD and non-DoD civilians alike. Under the plan, noncombat military pay would also be frozen for three years. The recommendations also include a 10 percent reduction in the non-DoD federal workforce by replacing only two of every three vacancies. The proposals to cut the federal discretionary budget would lower federal spending by $1.5 trillion through 2020 according to the report. Proposed changes to the tax laws, the Medicare program, subsidies and retirement programs, and Social Security would reduce the deficit by about $2.4 trillion over the same period. These recommendations include eliminating the mortgage interest deduction and raising the social security retirement age to 69. The Bowles/Simpson plan is already getting some strong criticism from Congress, federal employee unions, and other interest groups. The full Commission is not expected to approve all of the proposals in the draft report. To be approved, a recommendation must be agreed to by 14 of the 18 members. The Commission will send its final report to the president in December.