Deficit Panel Co-Chair 'Hopeful' of Plan Approval

Monday, 15 Nov 2010 08:33 AM

 

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A co-chairman of the presidential deficit commission said Monday that he is hopeful commission members will approve recommendations to slash the U.S. budget deficit and send them to Congress.

But Erskine Bowles, who co-chairs the commission with former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, also told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the proposals released last week would lay a foundation for the deficit debate in the next Congress, even if his panel does not approve them.

"I'd say I'm hopeful," Bowles replied when asked if he believed that he and Simpson could get 14 out of 18 commission members to vote for the plan before a Dec. 1 deadline. The recommendations must have 14 'yes' votes to merit action by Congress.

The recommendations would seek $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade by cutting discretionary spending and eliminating tax breaks, while also raising the Social Security retirement age and imposing other changes on entitlement benefits.

It is unclear how much political support the proposals would muster in Congress, where Republicans oppose tax increases and Democrats chafe at the idea of altering Social Security.

Bowles, who was a White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton, said he expects President Barack Obama to subject the proposals to a full review and discussion.

The commission is due to meet behind closed doors on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the recommendations.

But Bowles suggested the blueprint could help shape the fiscal debate in Congress next year, even if it fails to win approval from enough commission members to warrant official action by lawmakers.

"What we've done is lay a predicate for this next Congress to deal with, where we have three dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of revenue increase," he said. (Reporting by David Morgan, Editing by Stacey Joyce)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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