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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Obama sets up deficit panel without help from Hill
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama signed an order Thursday unilaterally creating a bipartisan commission to rein in unruly deficits after Congress rejected a similar body with considerably more enforcement power.
The federal deficit hit a record $1.4 trillion last year and could grow larger this year as the struggling economy puts a big dent in tax collections.
But the executive commission is a weak substitute for what the president really wanted: a panel created by Congress that could force lawmakers to consider unpopular remedies to reduce the debt, including curbing politically sensitive entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.
Though Obama's commission will lack any requirement for Congress to act on its advice, it could provide the president some political cover with an electorate that is increasingly concerned about the massive deficit. And that has some Republicans looking to paint the executive commission as little more than a political calculation.