Saddled with a tight deadline and great expectations, members of President Obama's deficit reduction commission say they may not have the resources necessary to meet their task.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which the president created through an executive order in February, is charged with developing a plan by December 1 that would stabilize the budget deficit by 2015 and reduce the federal debt over the long term. The group is widely expected to consider a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts.
But despite the weighty demands, the panel has only a fraction of the staff and budget of standing congressional committees. The panel's own cochairs and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have criticized the meager resources and called for more support. ...
According to fiscal commission staffers, there are 10 to 15 people who work for the commission, including two full-time employees, interns, employees "borrowed" from other agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department, and special government employees, who are expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year. The number of workers will likely grow to around 20 by midsummer.
The White House has set aside the resources to provide the equivalent of four full-time salaries and $500,000 in operating costs for the commission, fiscal commission Executive Director Bruce Reed told Tax Analysts.
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