White House Fiscal Commission Chairman: We Could Not Balance Budget in 10 Years

By Matt Cover | March 10, 2011 | 4:01 AM EST

(CNSNews.com) – Erskine Bowles, the co-chairman of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform told CNSNews.com in a Capitol Hill interview on Wednesday that the commission had determined it could not find a way to “cut quick enough” to balance the federal budget within 10 years.

“We got the deficit to 1.2 percent of GDP by the end of the decade,” Bowles said. “We could not get--we were not able to cut quick enough and in a responsible enough manner and hold revenue at a low enough level to get there.”

Bowles, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, did not take issue with the 15-20 year time frame for balancing the budget given by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). (Hoyer told CNSNews.com on Tuesday that it woult take a decade-and-a-half to two decades to balance the budget.)

“If you look at our plan you'd see that it took approximately that period of time to get to balance,” said Bowles.

In fact, the fiscal commission's proposal does not balance the federal budget until 2035 and uses a mix of spending cuts, mandatory spending caps, and tax reforms that would bring in more revenue to do so. The federal budget in fiscal year 2010 was $3.5 trillion, with a $1.8 trillion deficit. The national debt now exceeds $14 trillion.

Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson co-chaired the fiscal commission with Bowles.