Republicans name their slate of members for Obama deficit panel
By Lori Montgomery
Congressional Republicans on Friday named six members to President Obama's deficit-reduction commission, choosing two of the party's most respected leaders on fiscal issues as well as outspoken conservatives who said they are determined to focus the panel's efforts on cutting spending rather than raising taxes.
"Our nation is in a fiscal crisis and our future depends on stopping the spending spree in Washington that is saddling our children and grandchildren with trillions of dollars in debt," House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Boehner chose the most senior Republican member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (D-Wis.), to serve on the panel, along with the ranking GOP member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), and Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee. Ryan, who has been praised by Obama as a serious thinker on budget issues, has authored his own plan for balancing the budget that would rewrite the tax code to reduce taxes on the wealthy, privatize Social Security and transform the Medicare insurance plan into a voucher program for people under 55.
"I don't believe that we need further tax increases. I believe we have a spending problem in Washington, not a taxing problem," said Hensarling, who has also endorsed Ryan's "Roadmap for America."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) named the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, one of the leading advocates of the commission approach to balancing the budget. McConnell also named Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
"Americans are rightly concerned about the growth of government, while the rest of the country has been tightening their belts," McConnell said in a statement. "Sens. Gregg, Crapo, and Coburn are serious defenders of the taxpayer, and I am confident they will provide commonsense recommendations to reduce Washington spending."
Created by Obama to develop a plan to reduce soaring budget deficits, the 18-member commission is under orders to offer a solution to Congress by Dec. 1, just after the midterm elections. Obama has named six members, including the co-chairmen, former Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles. Senate Democrats have also appointed three members, leaving only House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to make her choices and fill out the panel.
The names of the Republican appointees had been eagerly awaited, because at least two of them would have to vote for any deficit-reduction plan in order for the commission to approve it and recommend it to Congress. If the commission can reach agreement, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have vowed to put it to a vote in both houses of Congress before the end of the year.
March 12, 2010; 1:47 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Economy
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