The co-chairmen of the Fiscal Commission released their final proposal Wednesday morning after acknowledging they probably don’t have the votes to win the necessary super-majority backing for their nearly $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan that combines spending cuts, tax increases, and major entitlement changes.
Erskine Bowles, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, the former Republican Senator for Wyoming, offered the package at the final public meeting of the 18-member commission with only minor changes from their proposal issued earlier this month after holding a series of one-on-one meetings with members of the bipartisan panel. The controversial proposal includes sharp cuts in defense spending, a boost in the retirement age and tax reforms that could cost the average taxpayer an additional $1,700 a year. A final vote has been set for Friday.
Bowles had vowed Tuesday that “It will not be a watered-down version of the chairman’s market, I guarantee you.” He added that “I don’t know if we’ll get two, five, or fourteen votes. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for this plan.”
Bowles and Simpson stressed that the government was on an “unsustainable fiscal path” that could lead to a long-term debt crisis comparable to the one currently confronting Europe. But after most of the commission members reacted to the final plan it was still unclear if the vote on Friday will garner the 14 votes needed to send the report to Congress.