Republican and Democratic senators alike have rejected the idea of a bipartisan deficit commission (even though some of them formerly supported it), but President Obama says he will push for consensus on the idea. "Another area where I hope we can find some agreement is on the issue of getting our deficits and debt under control. Both parties have stated their concerns about it...I have put forward the idea of a fiscal commission, and I'm going to be discussing [it] with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues," Obama said this morning, speaking to reporters at a meeting with congressional leaders of both parties. "I think the American people want to see that concrete action."
Although so much opposition to President Obama has focused on government spending and debt, this isn't the first time he has publicly stumped for deficit reduction--much of his health care push centered on the deficit-lowering impact of reform.
Despite its deficit-reducing moniker, the idea is opposed by fiscal conservatives.
Ryan Ellis, tax policy director for the Grover Norquist-led group Americans for Tax Reform, refers to the proposal as a "bipartisan tax-raising commission"--voicing the same concern that's surfaced among congressional Republicans: that the deficit-reducing solution would be higher taxes, not less spending.
The proposal was shot down by members of both parties in a 53-46 Senate vote on Jan. 26, falling 17 votes short of the needed 60. The bill, put forward by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), did get 16 votes from moderate (or retiring) Republicans, and it was opposed by 23 Democrats (including Paul Kirk, who has now been replaced by Republican Scott Brown).
So a big part of the challenge for Obama and Democrats will be getting members of their own party on board with the idea. For the conservatives in the GOP, it's probably a non-starter.
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