Obama Passes the Budget Hot Potato to a Bipartisan Commission
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.