President Obama Creates National Commission on Debt Reduction

BY Quinn Bowman  February 18, 2010 at 10:43 AM EDT

President Obama Thursday morning signed an executive order to create a commission tasked with helping the nation reduce its debt.

Mr. Obama selected Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to head the commission, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Bowles is a Democrat and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Simpson is a Republican and former senator from Wyoming.

Watch a preview of Judy Woodruff’s interview with Simpson and Bowles:

The president spoke at the White House before signing the order, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden as well as Simpson and Bowles. President Obama said that the country’s exploding debt was disturbing and that the commission is tasked with finding ways to fix the problem.

“For far too long, Washington has avoided the tough choices necessary to solve our fiscal problems – and they won’t be solved overnight. But under the leadership of Erksine and Alan, I’m confident that the Commission I’m establishing today will build a bipartisan consensus to put America on the path toward fiscal reform and responsibility. I know they’ll take up their work with the sense of integrity and strength of commitment that America’s people deserve and America’s future demands,” Mr. Obama said.

The Obama administration predicted that the U.S. government will rack up $1.56 trillion debt for fiscal year 2010. The national debt is $14.3 trillion.

The commission is tasked with making recommendations for reducing the federal deficit to three percent of gross domestic product and balancing the federal budget by 2015.

Mr. Obama created the commission after a proposed U.S. Senate commission, sponsored by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad, was rejected by the Senate.

We’ll have more on the deficit and the task ahead for the commission on Thursday’s NewsHour.