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Commission would cut deficit spending

Capitol Hill at sunrise

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: President Obama says he'll seek a three-year freeze on domestic spending starting in 2011. It is an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit. But less than a quarter of the budget
will be targeted. Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security spending are exempt. So is aid to foreign countries. Now cutting the deficit is a big growth industry in D.C. these days. Today the Senate could vote to create a commission to help secure the federal government's fiscal future. From Washington, Brett Neely has more.


Brett Neely: The deficit-cutting commission is part of a bill that will let the government borrow an additional $1.9 trillion.

The government's borrowing has federal budget expert Joe Minarik worried, which is why he's for some kind of commission.

Joe Minarik: We are piling up debt at a rate faster than our economy is growing.

Many economists say taxes have to rise and spending on Medicare and Social Security has to shrink to tame the deficit. They say a commission would give lawmakers political cover by making the tough proposals that neither party wants to put on the table.

But the plan before the Senate isn't realistic, says economist Bruce Bartlett, who advised the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

Bruce Bartlett: The problem right now is that there is no real agreement on the necessity or the magnitude or the composition of deficit reduction.

Bartlett blames his own party, the Republicans, who have ruled out any tax increases to fix the deficit.

Bartlett: And I think that's just plain stupid.

Bartlett says until the parties work together, a commission won't accomplish much.

In Washington, I'm Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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