Obama Launches His Fiscal Commission; Republicans Call It A Front for Tax Hikes
The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is co-chaired by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson.
The panel is examining ways to cut costs and boost revenues to produce a maximum deficit of $550 billion by 2015, an amount equal to about 3 percent of the total U.S. economy. That would require deficit savings of at least $250 billion, the Associated Press reported.
The commission will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, and President Obama said there are no restrictions on its recommendations: “Everything has to be on the table,” Obama said on Tuesday. That means tax hikes and entitlement cuts are possible.
President Obama told a gathering in the White House Rose Garden he will not take questions on what he will rule in or rule out: “So I want to deliver this message today: We’re not playing that game. We’re not going to say what’s in; I’m not going to say what’s out. I want this commission to be free to do its work.”
Obama in recent weeks has been asked whether he’d consider a European-style value-added tax, despite his repeated pledge on the campaign trail not to raise taxes on people making less than $250,000. (See earlier report)
Fueling Republican skepticism, Obama’s fiscal commission faces a December 1 deadline to report its recommendations – right after the midterm elections.
A front for tax hikes
“Americans are right to be concerned that this commission is merely a front to provide Democrats with the political cover they need to impose massive tax hikes," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Rep. Mike Pence, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, said the president’s fiscal commission “is not a serious effort to stop out-of-control spending.”
“The president needs to tell this commission that new taxes are not an option, and he needs to take all new tax proposals off the table, including any form of a European-style value added tax.”
Pence said if Obama were really serious out curbing government spending, he would “take out his veto pen and tell Congress to stop sending him bloated, big-government legislation that’s filled with wasteful spending.”
Pence is pushing a “spending limit amendment” to the U.S. Constitution that would limit government spending to one-fifth of the economy.
“The American people don’t want to wait for another commission to tell us how bleak the problem is, and then hope that Congress will finally make tough choices. We need to cut spending now, and adopt a Spending Limit Amendment to rein in government spending for generations to come,” he said.