Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Obama debt commission: It's almost a wrap

By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After working for eight months, the 18 members of President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission will finish their deliberations this week over how to reduce the nation's long-term debt.

Expectations are low that the panel, which holds its final public meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, will get the 14 votes required to make official recommendations to Congress.

But even if the panel doesn't produce a unified report, the group's efforts may not have been in vain.

That's because the commission's co-chairmen, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, have already gotten the national conversation started. Nearly three weeks ago, they unexpectedly released proposals that offer a framework for the debate over how to reduce the debt.

Meanwhile, other credible reports have echoed the major takeaway from the Bowles-Simpson plan: The growth in debt can't be curbed by half-measures or by exempting wholesale either spending cuts or tax increases.

Moreover, Bowles-Simpson will be a benchmark against which Obama's 2012 budget -- due out in February -- can be measured.

That's because Obama has promised to offer serious deficit-reduction proposals next year.

"When I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, because I'm calling their bluff," the president said at a press conference during the G-20 summit in June.

The Bowles-Simpson plan is a tall order to match. It aims to reduce deficits over the next decade by $4 trillion, three-quarters of which would come from spending cuts and the rest from increasing tax revenue. If interest payments are excluded, the split is 70-30 between spending and taxes. As the co-chairmen promised for months, they hit all parts of the federal budget. (Video: 'Headed for disaster')

While the president encouraged them to consider everything on the table when he established the debt commission last February, the proof will be in his 2012 budget whether he's willing to do the same. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,651.74 143.08 0.58%
Nasdaq 6,936.58 80.06 1.17%
S&P 500 2,675.81 23.80 0.90%
Treasuries 2.36 0.01 0.38%
Data as of 4:47pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 29.04 0.31 1.08%
General Electric Co 17.82 0.18 1.02%
Oracle Corp 48.30 -1.89 -3.77%
Micron Technology In... 42.40 0.16 0.38%
Microsoft Corp 86.85 2.16 2.55%
Data as of Dec 15
Sponsors

Sections

More than 5% of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program, according to a recent survey. More

Republicans said their plan would make taxes easy to prepare, and indeed the final bill gets points for some simplification. But the whole story, like the tax code, is more complex. More

Uber is being sued by Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit that was formerly part of Google. Waymo alleges that Uber stole trade secrets about its self-driving technology. More

Homeowners would be able to deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage under the final tax bill -- down from the current $1 million threshold. More