Obama's Deficit Panel Delays Vote Until Friday

Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles

President Obama's debt panel co-chairs former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson (l) and former Clinton White House official Erskine Bowles, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Alex Brandon/AP Photo hide caption

toggle caption Alex Brandon/AP Photo

President Obama's Commission on Fiscal Policy and Reform was supposed to vote Wednesday on a plan to reduce federal deficits and the national debt.

But that vote has been delayed as commission co-chairs, Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator from Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton White House chief of staff, worked to collect more votes from the panel's 18 members.

They need at least 14 votes for their deficit and debt reduction plan in order to forward it to Congress for a vote. On Tuesday they told reporters they were sure they had at least two votes, their own, for a final plan that will largely resemble their controversial draft proposal that was released earlier in November.

Their draft became a lightning rod because it gored many of the sacred cows of spending and taxes. Among its proposals was raising the Social Security retirement age to 68 by 2050 and reining in a number of cherished tax deductions, among them the one for mortgage interest.

As NPR's John Ydstie told All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel:

Well, the chairmen have been frantically trying to line-up votes and the deadline set by the president's executive order came a little too early to finish things up.

That's partly because a plan the co-chairmen unveiled a couple of weeks ago took flak from both the left and right. They modified it over Thanksgiving and have been meeting individually with members of the commission in the past couple of days trying to drum up support.

All the adjustments they've made haven't been put in printed form.

They hope to have a version sometime tonight or early tomorrow morning that they'll give to commission members.  Then the commission will meet in public tomorrow to discuss it.  But the chairmen decided they'd wait for a vote until Friday.



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