GOP wants voters to get a look at recommendations to cut deficit
By Lori Montgomery
House Republican leader John Boehner called Wednesday for President Obama's new bipartisan deficit-reduction commission to issue its recommendations by Oct. 1 so potentially painful decisions about raising taxes and cutting spending can be vetted by the voters.
In a letter to the commission's co-chairs, Boehner (R-Ohio) also urged that all of the commission's meetings be open to the public, adding that their response could affect his decision about which House Republicans to appoint to the 18-member panel.
"If we're going to have a commission like this, it should be a commission that will work in the transparent, open and accountable way that the American people deserve," Boehner said in a statement.
Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said the administration has no plans to change the date of the commission's report, but that the commission would abide by federal laws governing open meetings.
So far, Republicans have not named anyone to the six seats Obama reserved for them on the panel. White House officials and budget experts across Washington are anxiously waiting to see whether Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will choose people willing to work toward a solution to the nation's budget problems or appoint members more interested in accusing the presidentially created commission of trying to raise taxes.
Obama formed the commission to try to rein in soaring budget deficits by 2015, and ordered it to issue recommendations by Dec.1, just after the elections. Budget experts say that timetable makes sense, because the commission otherwise risks having its work politicized during the campaign season.
It is unclear when the panel will begin its work. While Obama has named all six of his picks, including co-chairmen Alan K. Simpson, a former GOP senator, and Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, is still waiting for House Democrats to appoint three members, as well as Republicans in both chambers.
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