Obama Meets With Debt Commission Co-Chairs, “The Next Step is Key”

By Kristina

Apr 14, 2011 12:40pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama sat down in the Oval Office with the co-chairs of the Fiscal Commission, one day after releasing his vision for deficit reform for the country.

The president said that the commission, headed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton, helped  “shape” his thinking  in forming the plan to cut $4 billion from the deficit.

The president reaffirmed that he will use the tax code, “and find a way to work together to not only simplify and make the tax system fairer, but also that we use it as a tool” to help  achieve the deficit goals.

The president said it is “not appropriate” to ask for sacrifices “from everybody except for the 2 percent of Americans who are doing best.”

Not directly mentioning the Republican criticism of his plan, the president said that “no matter how much we spend time debating the issues, at some point we’re going to have to come together as Americans.”

The president said they should “start moving rapidly to get some of these major issues resolved.”

Vice President Biden, who was also in the room, will head up the effort, the president said.

After the meeting co-chairs Simpson and Bowles said that while the president’s plan doesn’t call for deficit reduction as quickly as they would have liked, they are happy that the final goal of $4 trillion reduction remains.

The debt commission first proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020.

“Now is the time for action,” Bowles said, listing the many versions of plans floating out there, including the president’s plan and Ryan plan.

Bowles said he hopes that the Gang of Six, made up of Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Mike Crapo of Idaho, will be able to take the recommendations, the “best parts of each of them,” and come up with a legislative language plan.

“The next step is key, the gang of six,” Simpson said,” we think at some point very soon they will put out their plan.”

Simpson said they would all then “mess around” with all the different plans and see what is the best result.

“Mix them all up,” Simpson said, “Paul Ryan’s got a plan. Jan Schakowsky has a plan, we’ll look at them all, and do what you do when you legislative which is like making sausage.”

Asked if the partisan tone of the president’s speech yesterday impacts the chances of reaching a bipartisan deal, Bowles said he is “much more worried about the substance than tone. And the substance was fine.”

On the June target that the president outlined yesterday in his speech, Simpson said that setting dates in Washington, DC is a “lost cause,” and is the “goofiest thing you could do.”

-Sunlen Miller


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