Remember the Fiscal Commission? It was a bipartisan group created by President Obama to address the federal deficit. According to the Commission’s Web site, “The Commission is charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.”
The Fiscal Commission issued a report on December 1, 2010 with a variety of specific ways to cut the federal debt. The recommendations drew both ire and praise from the various groups that would be affected, both directly and indirectly.
Mention of the Fiscal Commission arose again today when a group of 64 Senators, led by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Johanns (R-NE), sent a letter to President Obama urging him to support a “broad approach to solving the [deficit] problem.” The letter noted that “a bipartisan group of Senators has been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission.” It’s about as bipartisan as a group can get since it was a 50/50 split of signatures: 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans signed the letter.
While the Fiscal Commission had some specific recommendations on how to reduce the debt, the Senators’ letter didn’t address any specifics for ways to make cuts. That, presumably, will come later since the letter said a group of Senators is working on a package. There’s a good chance that any recommendations made won’t be as comprehensive as those of the Fiscal Commission since the letter notes, “While we may not agree with every aspect of the Commission’s recommendations, we believe that its work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt.” The White House said in response to the letter that it was a “positive effort” and that “we will continue to work with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to rein in our deficit, grow our economy and win the future.”
We will have to wait and see if and when any recommendations from this group are issued and whether or not they are enacted. We will, of course, keep readers informed of any recommendations that may come from the group that would potentially affect federal employees.
The full text of the letter is included below.
Dear President Obama:
As the Administration continues to work with Congressional leadership regarding our current budget situation, we write to inform you that we believe comprehensive deficit reduction measures are imperative and to ask you to support a broad approach to solving the problem.
As you know, a bipartisan group of Senators has been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission. While we may not agree with every aspect of the Commission’s recommendations, we believe that its work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt. The Commission’s work also underscored the scope and breadth of our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.
Beyond FY2011 funding decisions, we urge you to engage in a broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit reduction package. Specifically, we hope that the discussion will include discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform.
By approaching these negotiations comprehensively, with a strong signal of support from you, we believe that we can achieve consensus on these important fiscal issues. This would send a powerful message to Americans that Washington can work together to tackle this critical issue.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
In addition to Bennet and Johanns, the letter was signed by:
Lamar Alexander (R –TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Scott Brown (R- MA), Richard Burr (R -NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornryn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mark Begich (D-AK), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Mark Udall (D- CO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) , Kent Conrad (D-ND) , Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).