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'Brutal' vote ahead on whether to raise the national debt ceiling

Many new Republicans were elected on a platform of shrinking the federal government. The first big test of their sincerity it coming, with a vote on whether to let the US borrow more money to increase the national debt. Deficit commission co-chair Alan Simpson says he 'can't wait.'

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of President Barack Obama's fiscal commission, were guests at Friday's Monitor Breakfast in Washington.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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Saying he “can’t wait for the bloodbath in April,” the co-chairman of President Obama’s debt commission says that the “brutal” politics surrounding an upcoming vote on raising the national debt ceiling could force Congress to act on the commission’s controversial recommendations.

“This is going to be beautiful politics – the brutal kind,” said Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He spoke at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Friday along with Erskine Bowles, the other co-chair.

The panel is slated to release its recommendations Dec. 1. Last week the co-chairmen released a preliminary report that provoked widespread opposition. It called for gradually raising the Social Security retirement age, making cuts in Medicare and defense spending, and raising tax revenue by closing loopholes and boosting the gasoline tax.

The key political problem surrounding deficit reduction is that voters favor the concept in general but oppose specific cuts that would affect their pocketbooks.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that nearly half the Republicans called the co-chair’s plan a “bad idea” while about one third of Democrats saw it that way.


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