"I give them very high marks for being bold and producing a plan that does get us back on a sustainable course. They get very high grades for that," Conrad said. "We're going to have to take some time to evaluate the economic effect, the equities here, before we reach a conclusion. And obviously we're going to have alternatives offered, but in terms of constructing a plan that really gets us back on track, they've clearly done that."
"It's very hard to get 14 of 18 around here to agree on anything. I mean, it's very hard to get 14 of 18 to agree on a time of day to meet," he joked.
"To get a package is clearly going to take more work. It's going to take compromise. It's going to take evaluation of alternatives," he concluded.
A more optimistic outlook about gaining a consensus on the panel was voiced by another member, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
"Maybe I'm just being more hopeful right now, but I believe that the threat that our country faces from our fiscal problems right now is sufficiently real that we have to come together," he said. "A decision is going to be made either by the bond market or by Congress and the president…"
"I think that clearly Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson have put together a plan that has a lot of controversial things in it, but I doubt that you can put together a plan to deal with the fiscal issues that we face in our country right now without creating a plan that has controversy in it. So now what the commission is going to do is dig into it, evaluate it and I think other ideas are going to be put on the table and we're going to sift through it."