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Obama establishes bipartisan commission on national debt

President Obama signs an executive order creating a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

By Michael D. Shear
President Obama today signed an executive order creating the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan commission designed to confront the nation's growing debt in the face of congressional inaction.

Obama formally named two co-chairs of the commission -- former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who served Bill Clinton, and former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) -- to lead efforts to find long-term solutions that both parties can support.

"There's no doubt that we're going to also have to address the long term quandary of a government that continually and extravagantly spends more than it takes in," Obama said. "The accumulated weight of that structural deficit ... will hobble our economy."

The yearly deficit for the federal government is approaching $1.6 trillion, an amount rivaling the budget gap created during World War II. And those figures are projected to get worse as entitlement programs pay out more to the aging baby boomers later in the decade.

Republican leaders who have long supported such a commission have in recent weeks changed their tune. A proposal in Congress to create such a panel was defeated in the Senate, leading Obama to issue the executive order.

In remarks at the White House before leaving on a fundraising trip to the West, Obama urged members of both parties to "step away from the partisan bickering" to participate in the panel.

To reassure Republicans, Obama said the commission would be made up of 18 members, including six appointed by congressional Republicans, six by congressional Democrats and four by him. But he said that any recommendation would require the approval of 14 of the 18 members, ensuring bipartisan support.

White House officials said they expect Republicans to participate in the commission, in part because of the reputations of the two co-chairs.

"I think having these two individuals work together demonstrates the seriousness with which the President looks at the commission and this issue," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Of Republicans, Gibbs added: "I think they understand the seriousness with which the President looks at this effort and attaches bipartisan leadership to, and we'll see where they go from here."

In his remarks, the president called Simpson "a flinty, Wyoming truth-teller" and called both co-chairs "patriotic Americans" who are answering a difficult call to service.

"Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are taking on the impossible," Obama said. "They are going to try to restore reason to the fiscal debate."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 18, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Economy  
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Now, Obama has another EXCUSE! (Reminds me of how some CEOs deal with 'problems' they elect not to deal with!)

Posted by: wheeljc | February 19, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Most of these comments have nothing to do with this article. Come on people. Bowles is the guy who engineered the last balanced budget we had -- under Democrat Clinton. He knows what he's talking about and doing. How about we get him and Simpson to roll up their sleeves and do some WORK! We are, at present, going no where!

Posted by: isthisajoke | February 18, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

We already pay millions of dollars for our President, his cabinet, far too much staff, along with Congress, and their bloated staffs to manage our budget. Why do we need a commission that is balanced in favor of the President and the Democrats to do the work we are already paying for?? The President formed this commission for one reason and that was to try to divert blame from his failed administration and the failed Democrat led congress. Obama has never even managed a lemonade stand. He and his Chicago staff are total incompetents who are used to running things using the crooked methods he learned "in the hood". It disgusts me that there were enough Americans that were so unread and ignorant enough to vote for these enemies of America and Christianity. Our only hope now is the TEA Party movement helping to totally remove all the arrogant elected government officials who have ignored the wishes of the American people. The Democratic leadership started the financial mess in our country in 2006. Under George Bush the stock market broke all records for gains. Things were great in this country, until a bunch of anti-war peace movement people helped put the Democrats in charge of Congress, in 2006. After that Democrats like Barney Franks, Maxine Waters, and Chris Dodd allowed Fannie May and Freddie Mac to ruin our nation's financial system. They coerced national banks into lending money for mortgages to people on the take who never produced and never would. When the Bush administration tried to stop this crooked dealing, they were ostracized by same Democrats. They all three should go to prison for what they did. Obama should start working for a change instead of trying to be a celebrity TV star. On second thought, it would be great if Obama and the Democrats would just go on vacation until 2012. They are a disgrace to this country and its proud history. I suggest everyone turn out for the TEA Party gatherings and get together with your neighbors to help get rid of these Democrat pro-socialist, soft on terrorist bums.

Posted by: good_angel | February 18, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

we already a bipartsian commission - its called CONGRESS!

Don't you realize that CONGRESS is the problem. Unless you got 60 votes nothing will get done. Meantime Congress keeps raising debt celling to pay for wars and unfunded medicare/medicaid and social security.

Posted by: bigben1986 | February 18, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse


deficit means the budget SPENDS more than it collects

in the private sector this is called insolvency

solution: be sure the Money COLLECTED is more (see-that be a bigger number) than the money SPENT

and then just say

My name is Barrack Hussein Obama

I am a recovering socialist

Posted by: ProCounsel | February 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Informative, and mind boggling!
You think the war in Iraq was costing us too much? Read this:
We have been hammered with the propaganda that it was the Iraq war and the war on terror that is bankrupting us.
I now find that to be RIDICULOUS.
I hope the following 14 reasons are forwarded over and over again until they are read so many times that the reader gets sick of reading them. I also have included the URL's for verification of all the following facts...
1. $11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year by state governments.
2. $2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
3. $2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
4. $12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English!
5. $17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies. 6. $3 Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.
7. 30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
8. $90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers.
9. $200 Billion dollars a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens.
10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of white non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the US .
11. During the year of 2005 there were 4 to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries.. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, crossed into the US from the Southern border.
12. The National policy Institute estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period.
13. In 2006, illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION in remittances to their countries of origin.
14.The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One million sex crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants In The United States .
This would pay for Health Care easily for all Amercians. You choice pay them or us!

Posted by: usmc1969 | February 18, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

king obama doe not need congress anymore.they question him and interfere with his right to govern.wonder what kind of fruits ,nuts,flakees and anti americams he can stock up this bunch of carzs with.when you hear are chicago politician talk about bipartisan -it means the democrat run under the gop side to get elected.

Posted by: dagner49 | February 18, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama can not win. When he works with Congress, it is said that he is not showing leadership; when he goes it alone, he is not a team player.

The american public (nitwits that elected George the village idiot Bush and Darth Cheney twice) spoke when the elected the fellow nitwit to Kennedy's seat. He said that he was voting against health care reform without even looking at it. This basically guarantees gridlock.

It's time for another flood because this mess is not fixable.

Posted by: xconservative | February 18, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Congress was elected to address this, putting more people on the government payroll is silly and wasteful.

Posted by: RayOne | February 18, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely worthless Republicans.

On the other hand they are actually being honest by admitting they have never exercised Fiscal Responsibility.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

This is all window dressing since Republicans blocked the only way this commission's recommendations could become binding.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

This is the equivalent of a bank robber wiping out most of the banks and then saying "gee, let's put security in those banks so I don't continue to rob them! I can not control myself and shouldn't be held responsible for my actions."

We need to cut everything 10% across the board and then look at eliminating programs as Obama promised during the campaign.

The gov't has proven they are incapable of running Fannie, Freddie, medicare, medicaid, GM, Chysler, Amtrac, Post Office, social security, TSA, roads, Iraq war, Afghanistan war, foreign aid, prescription drug program, annual budgets, etc so stop giving them the opportunity to continue to fail us.

Posted by: Tostitos | February 18, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Want to solve the deficit?

Realize we're fighting four wars - three we don't need: the Iraq War (civil war), the Afghanistan War (civil war), the Drug War against MJ (waste of taxes, helps terrorists by driving up prices), and the actual war against al-Qaeda in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and their funding/volunteer base of Saudi Arabia.

Therefore either end three of those wars or jack up income tax on millionaires to 70 percent with zero exemptions.


Now stop whining and get to it.

Posted by: WillSeattle | February 18, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Where are these people getting their numbers?
Under Bush the annual deficits totaled less than 2 Trillion dollars over an 8 year period. Where is the 10.8 trillion number coming from?
I got my numbers from the 2008 budget report which has historical data within it.
I would like to verify the claim of $10.8 trillion under Bush. How can I do that? Where is the web site that came from?

Posted by: nychap44 | February 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Good luck, Mr. President. The nation could use some good leadership right now.

Queen Nancy the First is in California collecting on her political debts, so your timing is good.

Posted by: Soloflexerus | February 18, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Well said ephetsgma. Nobody does real research do they. I gues it is justesier to attack something you dont understand then actualy get educated about it.

Posted by: fabianjwilson | February 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow when he tries to do something you guys want you still bash him. Where was the TP when bush was doin all the spending and stripping us of our freedoms and taking us into unessesary war.
Ya you guys dont have real answers do you you just say stop spending give a job stop socialism
hmm ok how about we stop spending on defense hey who needs a military lets stop spending on unemployment hey who needs money when they loose there job. Lets stop spending money on the police hey great we need protection lets wow no ideas here just a bunch of whiners. I voted for the guy and will give him the four years that he deserves. Oh and buy they way you have to spend money to get out of recession look at the history of our ecomomy FDR did it Regan did it and clinton did it,

Posted by: fabianjwilson | February 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Many of these comments are like the political debate,lots of noise and no facts.
Deficit is about 12 trillion. This has occurred since 2000. 10.5 Trillion under Bush and republican majority. Obama has added 1 trillion. 700 B is for middle class tax cuts(300B)unemployment benefits (300B) and infrastructure and State aid. Most economists claim we would have a much bigger mess if thei were not done. We first need to deal with facts,not peoples closely held beliefs.
Out of our 1.5 trillion dollar budget the politicians in the congress (not Obama) will not touch 3/4 of this due to politics. Only 1/3 of the actual budget is available for spending cuts. (600B). Only welfare and housing gets attention (no lobby group) and the cuts may be 100 Billion at the most.
Revenue is 20% below spending and without tax increase this will continue.
So, all of you know it alls ,what would you do in the real world,not in your imagined world?

Posted by: ephetsgma | February 18, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

6 + 6 + 4 = 16, who appoints the other 2...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 18, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, wouldn't that be the 2 co-chairs mentioned in the article?

Posted by: TraderX | February 18, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Clinton and Bush junior both had bipartisan commissions to reform Social Security. Both did nothing with those recommendations and just kicked the can down the road. I hope that Obama will do more with this commission than his predecessors.

Posted by: stillaliberal | February 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I applaud the idea, but this executive commission is toothless. We need a legislative commission to make any real progress. Maybe there'll be some movement in that direction after the mid-terms.

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | February 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't Obama doing the budget? WE all know don't we - he pledged he wouldn't raise taxes on those making less than $250K.......but he didn't say someone else or some other panel might raise them.

This is disturbing as Obama is going to raise taxes on everyone, and try to claim it was the work of this so-called "bi-partisan panel".

America needs a leader as President, not some limp-wristed Den Mother like Obama.

Posted by: Realist20 | February 18, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Obama to congress: Make me a law that says, "Stop me before I spend again"

congress to Obama: You don't have to sign our out of control spending bills, and why did you submit a budget with 1.6 trillion dollar deficit?

Obama: "I have formed a commission that will stop me before I spend again"

We don't need a commission to stop out of control spending, we just need common sense.

Democrats, currently, and Republicans, before them, have lost their grip on common sense.

Posted by: thelaw1 | February 18, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

So now we are outsourcing the budget? I thought that was the job of Congress. This is so lame on the part of POTUS and Congress. None of them have the to make the hard choices. Here is how to do it as every person who works for a living does it. If you don't have the money, STOP SPENDING!

Posted by: melj1 | February 18, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

So now we are outsourcing the budget? I thought that was the job of Congress. This is so lame on the part of POTUS and Congress. None of them have the to make the hard choices. Here is how to do it as every person who works for a living does it. If you don't have the money, STOP SPENDING!

Posted by: melj1 | February 18, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Deficit Commission" A New Lie.
As always, this Blogger anticipates the mainstream media and exposes the not-so-hidden intrinsic "Lie" in the new "Deficit Commission of Obama.

It is in the more comprehensive piece called "Undermining America: Liars, Scoundrels, and Idiots". But they start with the new chapter, "Obama's Version of Bipartisanship - Deficit Commission".

They cut to the bone. See it at,

It is all part of the pattern; nothing has changed.

Posted by: JohnGalt9 | February 18, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama can say what he wants but the commession is set up to increase taxes, reduce SS, medicare and other social services instead of creating jobs in the US by putting money on mail street.

For every one job created in the US he created 50-100 in china, india or overseas.

Posted by: billisnice | February 18, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

No one, no group has ALL of the answers. We need all hands to man the rows and pull together on getting us to solutions. Saying No to everything makes the GOP part of the problem. We don't need yet another problem.

Is there a way to let the NO sayers go down without taking the rest of us down with them?

Posted by: jimb | February 18, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Just another bit of political theater. It means nothing and will accomplish even less. It will spend money we don't have.

Posted by: richard36 | February 18, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"6 + 6 + 4 = 16, who appoints the other 2..."

I believe the other two are the cochairs, already appointed by Obama.

Posted by: joeboe1 | February 18, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"6 + 6 + 4 = 16, who appoints the other 2..."

I believe the other two are the cochairs, already appointed by Obama.

Posted by: joeboe1 | February 18, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

This is just another bogus theater act from Barack "C-SPAN" Obama. It signifies nothing.

For if Obama was truly concerned about federal spending he would immediately ask congress to cancel the $787 Billion "stimulus" bill and to send his slush fund money "TARP" back to the Treasury.

Do you think THAT will ever happen? Action. Not words.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | February 18, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

6 + 6 + 4 = 16, who appoints the other 2...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 18, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

we already a bipartsian commission - its called CONGRESS!

Posted by: infantry11b4faus | February 18, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Were the Bush Tax Cuts disproportionate? Poll


Posted by: usadblake | February 18, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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