Debt Commission Chairmen Seek To Head Off Leaks, Put Positive Spin On Report

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The White House’s debt commission co-chairs were not planning on publicly releasing their preliminary recommendations, at least not in such a hurried fashion. But the commissioners’ reactions to their eye-popping proposals weren’t exactly positive. And so, concerned about potential leaks and negative press, the co-chairs decided to unveil it and get ahead of the spin, according to a source with knowledge of the proceedings.

In that regard, this afternoon’s briefing was a bid to keep the commission and its work from unraveling precipitously — to lay out their discussion document publicly, as a starting point from which members will have to work.

“This is not a package that I could support,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — one of the only progressives on the panel — told Bloomberg during a break at the commission’s private meeting this morning.These draft proposals are for the commissioners themselves. They’ll have a chance to debate them and modify them over the next two or three weeks, before voting on whether to send them to Capitol HIll for further consideration. But for that to happen, 14 of the 18 commissioners would have to agree to a final set of recommendations. That will be a tall order.

“We’re not going to have an up-or-down vote on this,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). “There are proposals in there that are painful. I told them I said there are things in here which inspire me and other things which I hate like the devil hates holy water. I’m not going to vote for those things.”

“We’re not asking anybody to vote for this plan,” insisted co-chair Erskine Bowles this afternoon, “This plan is a starting point. It represents only [co-chair] Al[an Simpson]’s and my thinking, and no one else’s.”

“We have no idea whether we’ll get the 14 of the 18,” Simpson added. “We’ll sure sit down and do a lot of hard work together starting today.”

“I think it would be wonderful if we came to some agreement before the next Congress comes into town,” Bowles added. “But what I’m positive of is that we have laid a predicate: We have put a serious plan out there.”

You can take a look at our rundown of the draft proposal — and the proposal itself — here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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