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Deficit task force wins majority support but goes down to defeat in the Senate

January 27, 2010

It’s difficult to grasp $12.3 trillion, but you get a pretty good sense of the runaway federal debt and many other fiscal and economic indicators on a continuously updated and fascinating website called usdebtclock.org

Anticipating the enormous role the debt will play in public policy, Farm Bureau delegates added policy language earlier this month in Seattle on the need for Congress and the President to balance the federal budget by the end of the decade. 

We didn’t have to wait too long for action. 

A proposal to create a Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action won the support of 53 senators — both Republicans and Democrats — but it fell seven votes short of the magical 60 votes needed to shut off debate in the U.S. Senate.   

The proposal was offered as an amendment to the Senate bill to increase the federal debt ceiling to $1.9 trillion.   It would have required the Senate to vote on the task force’s recommendations.  

Sen. Durbin voted yes.   Sen. Burris voted against the proposal.   

Sponsors of the plan — Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) — anticipated the outcome and have been working with the White House to form a similar commission by executive order.   The White House issued a statement Jan. 23 in support of the legislative effort. 

Fears that any commission would call for draconian cuts to Social Security prompted the Senate to approve an amendment to protect Social Security on a 97-0 vote. 

Look for more deficit reduction plans to surface in Congress and in the President’s anticipated State of the Union address Wednesday evening.

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