Obama fiscal commission to hold first meeting April 27

Jon Ward Contributor
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President Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission, which has been charged with proposing solutions to the nation’s debt and deficit crisis, announced Tuesday that it will hold its first meeting on April 27.

The 18-member commission will meet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the meeting will be open to the press, according to a news release that accompanied a letter from co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to the commission members.

The commission is required by the president’s executive order to report its findings and proposals to Congress by Dec. 1.

The full text of the letter from Simpson and Bowles is below:

Dear Commission Member,

Thank you for serving on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Our nation’s daunting fiscal challenges can be solved only through the efforts of experienced, principled individuals of good will who are ready to set aside partisanship and focus on putting our nation back on stable fiscal footing. That is why you were asked to serve on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and why we are confident that our work can provide the solutions needed to restore our country’s fiscal health.

Certainly, it will not be easy. Over the next decade, both the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office project deficits exceeding $8 trillion – with spending that is estimated to average above 23% of GDP and revenues estimated to average around 19% of GDP over that time. This is symptomatic of a problem that has afflicted our government for years: a willingness to spend more than it collects in revenues, to countenance the escalation of debt, and to permit our country’s budget to remain on its negative medium- and long-term trajectory.

But it is for these very reasons that our work is so important. Our efforts will help ensure that future generations are not oppressed by mountains of debt they inherit. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not responsible for our current fiscal quandary and they should not be saddled with the task of correcting our generation’s errors. By stabilizing the budget now, we will not only stop the problem from getting worse, we will also provide Americans decades from now with the financial freedom to address needs we cannot even currently anticipate, and to maintain our country’s high standard of living.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was created by Executive Order in mid-February. Its mandate is to provide recommendations to the President to put the budget into primary balance, meaning that the federal government will pay for all of its programmatic obligations. That would result in deficits roughly in the range of 3 percent of GDP in 2015, which is approximately the point at which debt would not increase relative to the size of the economy. In addition, the Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the President to meaningfully improve the long-term fiscal outlook. This will cover the growth of entitlement spending and the projected long-term gap between the federal government’s revenue and expenditures.

The Commission’s goals are ones on which we can all agree. They are not Republican or Democratic objectives. The solvency of our federal government is a matter of such importance that it transcends political parties. Thus, it is appropriate that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is co-chaired by a Republican and a Democrat.

In addition to the co-chairs, the Commission consists of sixteen other members: four appointed by the President and twelve appointed by Congressional leaders (three by the Republican and Democratic leaders of each chamber). The Commission’s recommendations must be made to the President by December 1, 2010 and will require approval by fourteen of its eighteen members, thus guaranteeing that all recommendations are the result of bipartisan consensus.

We would like to invite you to the first meeting of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, to be held from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on April 27th in Washington, DC. We seriously urge your attendance. We will be in contact with your offices with further details.

Together, this Commission will look to the needs of the next generation, not the next election. The country can no longer defer the task of restoring fiscal responsibility. We look forward to beginning this difficult – but profoundly important – work with you.

Sincerely and with best personal regards,
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson