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Debt panel chiefs grade Obama's plan

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Two key players in the debate over how to get the nation's fiscal act together have offered their support for President Obama's plan to bring down deficits.

"I think he's come out with a solid, responsible plan," said Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. "While it doesn't have as much deficit reduction as quickly as we do, he does get to $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction."

Bowles and his fellow co-chairman, Alan Simpson, met with Obama at the White House on Thursday.

In December, their bipartisan commission, which Obama ordered up last year, outlined a wide range of controversial spending cuts and tax changes that would slash $4 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

And Obama unveiled his long-awaited deficit reduction plan Wednesday, calling for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes. The plan incorporates some of the recommendations made by the bipartisan commission in December. Obama set a debt-reduction target of $4 trillion over 12 years.

Obama, who had previously not fully embraced the Bowles-Simpson plan, acknowledged that his outline borrowed heavily from the commission's recommendations.

"Very frankly, it is the framework that they developed that help to shaped my thinking on these issues," Obama said.

In announcing his plan on Wednesday, Obama said Vice President Joe Biden would begin meeting with legislators from both parties in early May with the aim of forging agreement on a deficit reduction plan by the end of June.

Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House budget committee, released a deficit reduction plan last week, which aims to cut the debt by $4.4 trillion over the next decade while radically overhauling Medicare and Medicaid and dropping the top personal and corporate tax rate to 25%.

Bowles said he hopes that Congress can set aside partisan issues and work together to merge the plans quickly, "and come up with a legislative language plan that we can vote on, act on, and we can do something serious about taking down this deficit." To top of page

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