A debate is raging over the size and shape of those changes, particularly the wisdom of cutting Social Security benefits. But a surprisingly broad consensus is forming around the actions required to stabilize borrowing and ease fears of a European-style debt crisis in the United States. As a presidential commission struggles to build political momentum for such a package, even Republicans who initially opposed the commission’s creation are still at the negotiating table.
“I’m open to everything if it gets us where we need to go,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), who is emerging as one of the GOP’s most influential voices on budget issues. “This is going to require compromise, even from someone as conservative as me.”….Meanwhile, a chorus of retired military officers and national security experts has backed the call to reduce spending at the Pentagon for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“It is simply not going to be viable, either economically or politically, to exempt defense from the cuts that are coming,” said Gordon Adams, who oversaw military budgets during the Clinton administration. “Events over the past two weeks have begun to snowball to put defense, as well as every other form of federal spending, on the table.”…
The strange bedfellows are a “testament to the moderate nature” of the ideas under discussion, Domenici said. For those who have taken the measure of the debt abyss, including the threat of $1 trillion annual interest payments by the end of the decade, “this is not extreme.”
After hours of talks by the presidential deficit commission, which includes some of most liberal and conservative lawmakers in Congress, Bowles said it is clear that “there is common ground there.”
“If this town decides it really wants to come together and solve this today,” he said, “it’s doable.”…
Here is a great graphic from the Washington Post juxtaposing the various deficit reduction plans. Click graphic to enlarge.