Co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson voiced pleasure over comments from many of the members of the president’s fiscal commission who attended Wednesday’s final public session. While coming up with the 14-vote supermajority needed to send their deficit reduction plan to the floor of Congress remains a long-shot, winning a majority of the 18-member panel is clearly within reach, which would be a huge symbolic victory.
Here in their own words is what the commissioners had to say:
“There are things in this plan I dislike intensely. And there are things I think are grand slam home runs for the American economy and our future competitive position. We’re now at a moment to decide. I am prepared to support this plan and support it strongly because I don’t see another alternative.”
—Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
“This product doesn’t even solve the problem. It just allows us to put in place a glide path that says to Americans and the world that we are serious about doing something about the deficit.”
—Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.
“We are being watched by countries that believe we are past our prime . . . This is a job that needs to get done.”
—David Cote, Chairman, Honeywell International
“I am going to vote for it, but I will include a list of things I would have liked to see in it (like) upfront stimulus because we need to make sure we get out of this recession. I would have shifted the balance away from so many spending cuts and toward more revenue.”
—Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
“From a business standpoint, we have been hamstrung by the tax rates in place with respect to our global competitiveness. [This proposal] can put us on a path toward a stronger future over the long term.”
—Ann Fudge, former CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands
“I have heartaches with tons of it. But I know we have to go forward. If we pass this plan by the Congress, two years from now we’ll be coming back. This is just the down payment on some real sacrifices everyone in this country is going to have to make.”
—Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
“The impact of [extending the] 2001-2002 tax cuts [in adding to the deficit] and the impact of this package [in reducing the deficit] are the same. If you did nothing on [extending] the tax cuts, you’d have the same bottom line. That has to strike you as ironic.”
—Rep. John M. Spratt Jr., D-S.C.
“The growing disparity in income in the United States . . . is a problem for our democracy as well as our economy. Sacrifice in fact has not been shared. Some people have lost and others have significantly gained over the last several years. We’re not starting at the same point in saying we need to share in the sacrifice.”
—Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
The most vulnerable in our country cannot sacrifice the same as those of us who are fitter and more able to do so. The debates over taxes leave me struggling to understand. We’ve had time times of great expansion in our country when tax rates were substantially higher. People who are paid more should sacrifice more.”
—Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
“My primary concern with this plan is health care. . . You [the co-chairmen] are the president’s appointees, and I’m sure you don’t want to undo the president health care law. I don’t think we who oppose that law will sign up for something that advances that law.”
—Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“I don’t support any tax increase. . . . Even though you have a revenue cap, you don’t have an expense cap. If I actually believed that increased revenue would be used for deficit reduction, then I might be persuaded to reluctantly come to the table.”
—Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex.
“What were the sacred cows that gave us an economy that was parties for some, and left it to others to clean up the mess? This plan removes $11 trillion in [tax-break] earmarks, but only dedicates about 10 percent of those to helping resolve the deficit. That to me is anemic and this commission would punt if it allowed that to occur.”
—Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.
“For all the discussion of lowering corporate tax rates, every other country around the world has some kind of consumption tax. We need to think about taxes that help our exports and hurt our imports. Right now we have a tax system that doesn’t really help us but helps everyone else around the world.”
—Andy Stern, former president, Service Employees International Union
“On the spending [reduction] side, the plan doesn’t go far enough. We need a global spending cap. [This plan] has a global revenue cap.”
—Sen. Mike Crapo, (R-Idaho)
Not present: Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.