President Barack Obama on Saturday endorsed a bipartisan plan to name a special task force charged with coming up with a plan to curb the spiraling budget deficit, though the idea has lots of opposition from both his allies and rivals on Capitol Hill.
The bipartisan 18-member panel backed by Obama would study the issue for much of the year and — if at least half of the Republican panel members agree, a big obstacle — report a deficit reduction blueprint after the November elections. The plan would be voted on before the new Congress convenes next year.
"These deficits did not happen overnight, and they won't be solved overnight," Obama said in a statement. "The only way to solve our long-term fiscal challenge is to solve it together — Democrats and Republicans."
First, however, the plan would have to pass the Senate on Tuesday, where a vote has already been scheduled. Moderate Democrats want to attach the deficit task force plan to legislation to permit the government to continue borrowing money to pay for its operations.
The common wisdom is that the measure will fail since many Republicans oppose the plan as a recipe for tax increases, while Democrats worry it'll lead to cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits.
The plan has been offered by the top senators atop the Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, a Democrat form North Dakota, and Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire, who see it as the only way for Republicans and Democrats alike to take the leap into the treacherous business of curbing the deficit with politically unpopular tax increases and spending cuts.
Much of the opposition comes from top Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, whose turf would be stepped on since the findings of the task force automatically receive a vote in both the House and Senate, eroding their power.
And it's not even clear the task force could agree on a plan, since it'll take the votes of Republicans to advance any plan for votes on Capitol Hill.