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Conrad-Gregg Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act

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Today, U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) released the following statement in reaction to President Obama's weekend endorsement of the Conrad-Gregg Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act, which is slated to come up for a vote in the Senate tomorrow:

"I am very pleased President Obama has chosen to publicly endorse the Conrad-Gregg statutory debt commission. This is something I personally urged him to do during our meeting last week following reports that he was considering creating a debt commission by Executive Order. During our meeting, I emphasized that it was extremely important that the creation of the commission be bi-partisan, and that before throwing in the towel on the Senate's ability to pass the Conrad-Gregg Commission, he should offer it his full public support. I hope he will truly use his political capital with Leader Reid and Leader McConnell to secure the 60 votes needed as this landmark vote quickly approaches."

President Obama has floated the idea of creating a debt commission by Executive Order (E.O.). A history of experience with E.O. Commissions has been one of failure when attempting to enact the recommendations made by the commissions. Most recently, The Mack-Breaux Tax Reform Commission completed work and issued a report to the president in November 2005 with actionable recommendations, yet the work of this commission was largely ignored.

There is no reason to believe that such a wide-ranging endeavor by President Obama to tackle the America's fiscal crisis by Executive Order will fare any better. It would not constitutionally mandate any Congressional action and would simply be a façade of action while our national debt continues to grow astronomically.

Congressional Passage of Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action:

* Would carry the force of law.

* Would force an expedited and automatic up-or-down vote in both the House and Senate on the implementation of recommended reforms.

* Bipartisan, non-political. The Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House, Senate Minority Leader, and House Minority Leader will each select four Members of Congress. The president will appoint two members: the Secretary of the Treasury and another administration official.

* Upon reaching a bipartisan agreement, no amendments to the recommendations of the commission would be permitted prior to the up-or-down vote.

President Obama's Creation of a Deficit Commission by Executive Order:

* Cannot constitutionally mandate any Congressional action.

* Any recommendations by an E.O. Commission would not be subject to expedited legislative procedures.

* White House could place more Obama Administration officials on the E.O. Commission, giving the president more control.

* Regular order consideration will likely devolve into an exercise in political gamesmanship and breast-for-tat amendments.

* President Obama could also ignore the recommendations if the E.O. Commission suggests reforms that clash with his political agenda or campaign promises.
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Sen. Voinovich challenged his colleagues (D) Senator Reed and Sen McConnell, "If you are not for the Conrad-Gregg Responsible Fiscal Action Act, what Bipartisan Commission are you for?"

Edited by Luke_Wilbur
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Comeback America:


Please read this book by David Walker. No one has worked harder, been armed with more facts, written more clearly and been more dedicated to the mission of restoring confidence in our fiscal affairs and trust in government. - Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve


Every American should read David Walker's clear analysis of our dangerous future federal budget deficits and of our current political system. One might not agree with all of Walker's opinions and recommendations, but they should stimulate serious debate about issues that will determine the future of our society; and hopefully contribute to moving forward on those issues. - Robert Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations and Former Secretary of the Treasury


David Walker shows us how to regain fiscal sanity and why, if we don't, we're at risk of bequeathing a lower standard of living to our children and becoming a second rate power. Every American should read this book because Walker gives us specific solutions, and shows there is still hope. - Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley


Comeback America is a brilliant, factual, and highly readable account of our current fiscal predicament, how we got there, how we can escape, and what we should do in the future. It is a must read by every American, especially our elected leaders. - Carla Hills, U.S. Trade Representative under President George H.W. Bush (41)


Dave Walker has lifted the hood on the federal government, diagnosed the problems, and provided a number of sensible suggestions to help restore America's greatness. READ THIS BOOK IF YOU CARE ABOUT AMERICA'S FUTURE. - Ross Perot


A truly frightening and fact-based picture of a looming crisis; a crisis that will make the recent financial meltdown seem like a walk in the park. If this analysis doesn't stir you to action nothing will. - Paul O'Neill, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush (43)


He's one of America's foremost independent financial experts. As comptroller general of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998-2008, "the nation's top auditor" David M. Walker warned Congress, and the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations that America faced a growing fiscal imbalance due largely to known demographic trends and rising health care costs. Unfortunately, the numbers have gotten worse and our fiscal gap has grown dramatically in recent years. Now, as president and CEO of the non-partisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Walker works full-time to raise public awareness regarding our nation's growing deficits, mounting debt burdens and dangerous dependency on foreign lenders. His new book COMEBACK AMERICA (Random House; On Sale: January 12, 2010) includes a range of insightful and informative ideas all taking into account the Obama Administration's current efforts to-date. It addresses a range of policy, operational and political reforms needed to ensure that America's future will be better than its past. The following represents an example of the types of issues addressed and items contained in the book.




Strengthen the Social Security benefit for those near the poverty level


Reduce the relative Social Security benefit for middle and upper income persons, which would ensure that benefits are better targeted to those in need.


Gradually raise the normal and early retirement eligibility ages and automatically index them thereafter to future increases in life expectancy.


Raise the amount of wages and self-employment earnings subject to the Social Security tax (e.g., to $150,000)


Require supplemental savings accounts. An additional 2 or 3 percent payroll deduction would go into an individual account for each worker, where they could choose from several professionally managed investment options.



Impose a budget on what the federal government can spend on health care each year. America is the only major industrialized nation that doesn't have one.


Move away from fee-for-service payment systems and jury trials for medical malpractice suits.


Establish treatment standards based on sound clinical evidence of what works and what doesn't, including end of life care.


Better target tax preferences for employer provided and paid health care.




The government needs to require more competitive bidding for Medicare and Medicaid and other federal health programs.


To bring in more revenue, Medicare should simply charge more to those of us who can afford to pay more. We pay for hospitalization insurance (Medicare Part A) through payroll taxes during our working lives, but doctor payments (Part B ) and prescription drug benefits (Part D) are voluntary. Those who are better off should pay higher premiums than they do today


Maintain Medicaid for the poor, indigent and consider expanding it to cover certain near-poor families and individuals.




Simplify the tax system according to the Reagan model: Keep the rates as low as possible, broaden the tax base by cutting preferences, and make the rules easier for us to comply with and for the IRS to enforce.


Get rid of or reform the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) so that it applies only to the country's richest households, as it was originally intended to do.


Impose a progressive consumption tax possibly targeted for health care. More than a hundred countries have adopted the value-added tax (VAT), which is easy to administer, and deducted automatically in every transaction. A consumption tax encourages savings over conspicuous consumption.


Make sure that the tax system is competitive and equitable while generating enough revenue to pay the government's bills and deliver on the promises it intends to keep.



Cut the current account deficit to roughly 3 percent of GDP by enforcing tougher rules to prevent unfair currency manipulation, to regulate multinational corporations that answer to no government, and to stop protectionism. Our trading partners should not have unfettered access to our markets while they keep us out of theirs, or while they condone exploitative labor practices and damage the environment.


In the global production chain, America must remain the place that comes up with the new ideas, leading the way in the next round of information, telecommunications, alternative energy sources, and biotechnology. We can do this by educating our future workforce, opening our university doors to international students, and helping small businesses capitalize on their export opportunities.


Reduce reliance on foreign lenders by getting control of government deficits and increasing domestic savings rates.




The Pentagon should integrate planning and budget process for the various services, putting together a common schedule of weapons and other needs along with funding priorities designed to address credible threats in an affordable and sustainable manner.


Cut back or eliminate production of weapons systems that represent individual service wants, but not our true national and threat and risk based needs.


Base service members' pay and benefits on their skills and the risks they actually incur - a combat infantry sergeant at the front should not get the same benefits as a supply sergeant in the homeland who is never put at any real risk.




Change the Congressional re-districting process to achieve more competitive races and a more representative House of Representatives.


Reform campaign finance rules to require that a super-majority of campaign contributions come from individuals who are eligible to vote for the candidate.


Impose 12-18 year term limits on Senate and House members in order to prevent entrenchment and facilitate a transformational reform.


In this impassioned and stirring call to action, Walker shows us how "we the people" can come together to ensure a brighter future for our country and our children.


Tour Cities: NYC, Washington DC, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago


About the Author


David M. Walker served as the seventh comptroller general of the United States and was the CEO of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008. He is currently the president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Walker is a frequent speaker, writer, commentator, and congressional witness. He has appeared on a significant number of television networks, cable channels, and radio programs and has written for many major publications.




Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility

David M. Walker

On-Sale Date: January 12, 2010


Edited by Luke_Wilbur
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