Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.., speaks to the media on March 20 at the Capitol. (T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images)
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Tuesday he will back the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan as his opening proposal to balance the nation's budget.
That plan would freeze federal pay for three years, slash 200,000 positions from the federal workforce by 2020, and base retirees' pensions on the average of their highest five annual salaries.
The deficit reduction plan — proposed in 2010 by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who was President Clinton's chief of staff — would also require federal employees to contribute half the cost of their defined benefit pension plans, instead of 1/14th, as Federal Employees Retirement System employees do. That would likely bring FERS contributions up from 0.8 percent of each paycheck to roughly 6.25 percent of each paycheck.
Conrad, who is planning to retire from the Senate after this session ends, said he will propose the Simpson-Bowles plan Wednesday as his chairman's mark on budget negotiations.
"It is a plan which I believe represents the best blueprint from which to build a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement that can ultimately be adopted," Conrad said in a statement posted on his committee's website Tuesday afternoon. "It is not perfect, and it needs to be further updated to account for changes that have occurred since it was drafted in 2010."