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Source: Debt Commission Fights Over Freezing Military Pay, Slashing Benefits


The source said that different members of the commission come down on different sides of the issue. The discussion group is led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), whose primary aim is trimming fat on the contractor side, but, according to the source, David Cote, the Honeywell CEO who was appointed to the panel by President Obama, is pushing to find savings elsewhere.

"Coburn raised concerns about all of the cost overruns and redundant weapons system," the source told TPM. "Cote made excuses for it all."

According to the source, Cote and other members, including the commission's co-chair Alan Simpson, are focusing instead on "freezing military pay, making military people pay for their health care."

"I don't think there's a division anywhere, and I don't think you can pick up that sentiment, because I certainly haven't," Coburn told TPMDC yesterday. "Nothing's off the table."

On mandatory spending issues, according to the aide, things are shaping up similarly. "We spent all but 10 minutes on benefits cuts and spent 10 minutes on raising the wage caps." Though tax hikes aren't gaining traction, the group is discussing ways to close loopholes, end exemptions, deductions, credits, etc. to limit tax expenditures.

Cote was not immediately available for comment through Honeywell's corporate offices.

The commission's report is due by December 1. House Democrats have committed to voting up or down on the package if the Senate passes it first.

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