President Barack Obama said Tuesday that everything was on the table — including tax increases — as he launched a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to cut the government's soaring budget deficits.
"Our friends in the media will ask me ... what we are willing to rule in and what we are willing to rule out," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after making opening remarks to the commission. "It's an old Washington game, and one that has made it all but impossible in the past for people to sit down and have an honest discussion about putting our country on a more secure fiscal footing.
"So my message is simple: We're not playing the game, because I want this commission to be free to do its work."
The co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform , Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson , joined Obama. Bowles is the president of the University of North Carolina system and a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton . Simpson is a former senator from Wyoming .
The commission is supposed to make recommendations by Dec. 1 on ways to cut the deficit. To assure bipartisanship, it can make recommendations to Congress only that 14 of its 18 members support.
Obama, who chose not to propose the additional budget moves he's asking the commission to suggest, said partisan politics made it necessary to enlist outside help.
"In theory, there are few issues on which there is more vigorous bipartisan agreement than fiscal responsibility. But in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment," he said.
"It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns and to a reality familiar to every single American: It's a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one. That's what, at root, led to these exploding deficits. That's what has led to this day of reckoning." (Source)