Debt Commission Fails to Send Plan to Congress

BY Quinn Bowman  December 3, 2010 at 12:23 PM EDT


President Obama delivers remarks and signs an executive order establishing the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform on Feb. 18, 2010 at the White House with co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

A majority of the president’s federal debt commission voted to recommend their plan for reducing the nation’s deficit to Congress, but did not garner the 14 votes needed to send the plan to legislators for consideration.

Eleven members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform supported a plan that would cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over a ten year period, but the commission needed 14 of 18 members to officially send the plan to Congress.

Bloomberg News outlined what the plan would do:

The plan, proposed by (co-chairman Erskine) Bowles and co-chairman Alan Simpson, would increase taxes $1 trillion by 2020 by scaling back or eliminating hundreds of tax deductions, exclusions and credits such as those letting homeowners write off interest on their mortgage payments.

It would cut Social Security benefits, raise the gas tax by 15 cents, reduce discretionary spending by $1.6 trillion and cut Medicare by more than $400 billion.

The commission is comprised of Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate, in addition to union and businesses representatives.

President Obama said after the vote that finding a solution to reducing the federal deficit, which now stands at $1.3 trillion, will require sacrifice.

“It will require all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to find common ground without compromising the fundamental principles we hold dear,” Mr. Obama said.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he appreciated the panel’s work, and that there would be no easy solution to the federal debt.

“Historically, divided government has provided great opportunity to tackle the country’s biggest problems on a truly bipartisan basis and it is my hope that this effort will serve as a catalyst for achieving the spending and entitlement reform that our country so desperately needs,” McConnell said in a statement.

Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, who endorsed the plan, said the threat to America posed by the federal debt was as serious as the threat of terrorism.

“We’ve crossed an important hurdle here and laid out a plan that will be resurrected because it must be,” Conrad said, according to Reuters. Conrad is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, which could use some of the commission’s ideas when the next federal budget is proposed in 2011.