Can They Push Their Deficit Plan Across the Goal Line?
Printer-friendly versionPDF version
a a
Type Size: Small
The Fiscal Times
November 30, 2010
UPDATED 12-01-10 5:02 PM

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.

spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent, economics writer and investigative business reporter for the Chicago Tribune and other publications. He is the author of the 2004 book, The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs.