Durbin to Fiscal Commission: We Must Ask the Right Questions to Find the Right Answers

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) participated in the first meeting of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform today, where he urged the other members of the Commission to focus on the long-term goal of making smart investments in our country’s future while sensibly managing our national debts, rather than only focusing on short-term discussions of spending cuts and tax increases.
“To solve the problem of our expanding national debt, we have to start by asking the right questions,” Durbin said. “If we don’t raise revenue more thoughtfully and spend money more strategically, we could end up balancing the budget but impoverishing the nation.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of current law, the projected annual federal budget deficit is expected to fall to $480 billion (2.6% of GDP) by 2015, but would rise to $687 billion (3.0% of GDP) by 2020.
Durbin highlighted three areas for the commission to focus its attention: avoiding harm to the current recovery; raising revenue more equitably, including the revenue we spend on tax breaks for the wealthy and not the middle class; and developing a vision for our country which considers the impact of growing income disparity. In each of these areas, Durbin will push members to decide what they want America to achieve and what role the federal government should play in helping to achieve those goals.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was established by Executive Order on February 18, 2010 and is charged with “identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium-term and achieve fiscal sustainability of the long run.”

The bipartisan 18 member Commission will be co-chaired by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson. President Obama named 6 of the 18 members with the remaining 12 named by the Majority and Minority Leaders in the House and Senate.

Specifically, the Commission will propose recommendations to stabilize the level of federal debt by 2015, recommend specific policies to address the gap in projected spending and revenues, and to recommend changes to address the growth of entitlement spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare.

No later than December 1, 2010, the Commission will have to report its final recommendations to the President and Congress. In order for the report to be final, 14 of the Commission’s 18 members must approve its recommendations.

In addition to today’s meeting, the Commission plans to meet at least six times over the next eight months as they develop their recommendations.