Nightly News   |  February 18, 2010

Bowles, Simpson get candid about cutting deficit

President Barack Obama presided over the formal creation of an 18-member debt commission on Thursday. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

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>> ground in afghanistan. tom, thanks.

>>> president obama today presided over the formal creation of an 18-member debt commission whose job it is to find ways to reduce the nearly $1.5 trillion budget deficit . former republican senator alan simpson and ex- white house chief of staff erskine bowles will head the effort. i talked to them about what it means to have two washington veterans with no current ambitions of their own in charge of this, and how to drive home their findings.

>> we are going to take a lot of guff. he'll get a lot of guff from his party. i'll get a lot from mine. i've been accused of being the toady here and token republican, but both of us are in this not as a stalking horse for taxes or stalking horse for this, we are a stalking horse for our grandchildren, his seven, my six. this is big-time stuff.

>> erskine bowles how do you get people to pay attention to this commission?

>> i think the great thing is to put the facts on the table. take the myths out. if you just get rid of foreign aid you can balance the budget. if you just get rid of waste, fraud and abuse, we've got to talk about the facts. i think alan and i are willing to put the facts up there no matter hour painful and expose them to the american people . they are pretty smart . they'll get it.

>> erskine bowles and alan simpson . the work of the commission will be nonbinding after the senate rejected the president's call to create a congressional panel. senator simpson told us today plunge congressional leaders assured him they will participate in this new commission.

>>> back here in vancouver, this