The MLA has some recommendations, about which I have three comments.
1. The committee argues against "[r]educing cohort size" on the grounds that that would be "tantamount to reducing accessibility" (11). Instead, they argue in favor of "transforming the paradigm" (Kuhn, call your office) by "broadening professional horizons" (11). That is, doctoral programs need to look outward, "outside the academy" (12), as they define their curricula, goals, and anticipated career trajectories.
Now, this is one of those topics that brings out my broken-record side in all its scratchy glory. Most careers "outside the academy," including writing-intensive careers, do not require a Ph.D.; may not even require graduate training (or, at least, nothing beyond an MA); and may be better prepared for using other methods. Yes, I'm sure that the study of literature trains us, in general, for many wonderful things--but in particular, there are often more efficient ways of learning how to do those same wonderful things. "Ah, but new career paths built into the doctoral program!" Ah, but you don't need the blasted doctoral program for most of those paths. You need a doctoral program to master advanced, specialized research skills and fields--to become an academic, in other words, or something in a closely-related field (e.g., museum curator).
This hang-up on "hey, let's just repurpose ourselves for alt-ac careers" is a splendid way of a) avoiding being defunded, b) keeping all one's teaching assistants, RAs, and graders, and c) maintaining the status quo in terms of program size and cash flow. At the same time, it is an ironic and no doubt unintentional admission that we've all just given up on tenure-track positions (or even just contract-based positions) as a likely part of our future. I understand the point about denying "accessibility"--who will lose access in a smaller program, or with fewer programs?--but there seems to be something oddly, shall we say, self-serving about this approach. (Shocking as it seems, some programs are genuinely--gulp--bad, and will not become good by reframing themselves as a different form of career prep.)
2. Not the five-year-doctorate thing again, please. (I won't repeat myself.)
3. At least some of the suggestions for reform are, in effect, add-ons that would make it more, not less, difficult to finish in five years. Unless, of course, you reduce the amount of coursework...in which case, why not just become an MA program and be done with it?