The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform voted this morning on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $828 billion or cutting it in half by the year 2015. Eleven of 18 members or 61 percent voted yes on the plan, which fell short of the 14 votes required for the proposal to be definitely voted on by the House and Senate. Voting for the plan were three Democrats. Most surprisingly was progressive Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Durbin said he was opposed to many elements of the plan and would not vote as is for final passage. But he thought, “politicians on the left and right have to acknowledge the deficit crisis our nation faces,” so he wanted to process to proceed, “to begin the debate.” The plan, introduced by commission co-chairs Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erksine Bowles (D-NC), would disproportionately cut programs whose recipients are primarily women, such as Social Security and Medicare, while it cuts corporate taxes. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) voted no on the proposal and criticized it for its “alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class.” She also presented her plan that would reduce the deficit without hurting the middle class or the vulnerable. Women’s rights groups, including the National Organization for Women, OWL the Voice of Midlife and Older Women, and the Feminist Majority expressed their outrage when the initial proposal was introduced in mid November. The plan was moderated because of such criticism. For example, the plan would raise the age of eligibility for collecting social security – but now includes hardship waivers, proposed by commission member Senator Durbin, for seniors whose jobs require physical labor. The waivers, it is estimated, would affect some 20 percent of seniors.