Obama Passes the Budget Hot Potato to a Bipartisan Commission

President Barack Obama on Thursday created a commission to tackle runaway federal deficits "brought on by years of bad habits." The bipartisan panel's goals are to figure out how to reduce spending for all federal programs by 2015, as well as address long-term budget shortfalls."We...need to address the long-term quandary of a government that routinely and extravagantly spends more than it takes in," the president said, adding that the creation of jobs remains his administration's top priority.

Formally known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the panel has the daunting job of cutting the federal deficit to 3% of GDP in 2015 from a projected 10.6% this year.

The 18-member panel will be led by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson (pictured, left and right behind Obama). Their job is to "restore reason" to the fiscal debate in Washington, something the president called an "impossible task."

The federal deficit hit a record $1.4 trillion last year. As a percentage of GDP it reached nearly 10%, the highest level since World War II. The commission must report its recommendations to Congress by Dec. 1. Then it's up to Congress to act -- something it has shown extreme reluctance to do when it comes to balancing the budget.
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