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The chairman of a federal deficit-cutting panel -- in the first major political effort to dramatically alter sacred-cow entitlement programs -- today proposed raising to 70 the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare, limiting access to benefits and curtailing numerous tax deductions. Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who with outgoing Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) chair the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, immediately caught flak from all political sides. Liberal lawmakers on the 32-member advisory panel -- backed by organized labor, the American Association of Retired Persons and other groups -- want to retain the popular entitlements as they are. Conservatives want to cut taxes, not raise them to make up for lost benefits. Kerrey, in an interview with TIME Washington correspondent Suneel Ratan, acknowledged that he's having severe trouble getting a required 20-member majority to endorse the ideas, but said he preferred to lead by doing what he could to get controversial ideas on the table.