Bowles has suggested in appearances that the commission could suggest a major overhaul of the American tax system to lower the corporate tax rate and instead institute some sort of consumption tax. He has also floated the possibility of ending ending popular exemptions, like the one that homeowners get for the interest they pay on their mortgages.
What is a consumption tax?
"Basically a retail sales tax, which Americans are familiar with, except instead of being collected at the retail outlet, it is collected throughout the supply chain," said Donald Marron, director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
Even that proposal is rejected by anti-tax crusaders.
"If you have a spending problem you solve it by spending less, not by raising taxes. If you have a drinking problem you solve it by drinking less, not by buying more gin," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, which administers the tax pledge.
Norquist pegs the unfunded obligations and total national debt at more than $106 trillion – others say the number is closer to $70 trillion. But Norquist says if a debt reduction plan were only one quarter tax increases, that would still be more than $25 trillion in tax increases.
And any suggestions from the debt commission will only be considered after the elections in November, which many political experts believe will be a bruising one for Democrats.
"As a matter of realpolitik – if the Republicans effectively take control of one or both chambers of Congress this fall, the commission will have done all this work, proposing tax increases, which would be a nonstarter. So I would hope they would focus on spending and entitlement reforms," he said.
Pawlenty suggested that if Republicans make serious gains in the November midterm elections, any talk of tax increases to deal with the debt would be quashed.