Bipartisan Group Aims to Revive Deficit Reduction Plans

Talk of reducing the deficit fell by the wayside this month when President Obama unveiled a plan to extend all of the Bush tax cuts -- but a bipartisan pair of senators are reportedly hoping to revive the deficit discussion next year.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia have been leading a group of more than 20 senators in a discussion about deficit reduction for months now. The group quietly deliberated over the issue while a bipartisan commission created by President Obama put forward its own ideas for deficit reduction.

Early next year, Warner and Chambliss plan to introduce the plan from Mr. Obama's deficit commission in the Senate, the Washington Post reports, with the aim of creating a binding compromise before 2012.

The deficit commission's report included a number of contentious ideas, such as raising the retirement age, making cuts to Medicare and raising the gas tax. Members of the commission urged Congress to consider adopting the proposals, which were estimated to cut $4 trillion from the deficit. But the report -- and the recent emphasis Washington has put on deficit reduction -- were put aside as the president and Congress scrambled to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which were set to expire at the end of the year. Congress passed with overwhelming support and Mr. Obama signed into law a plan that extended the tax cuts and implemented other stimulative measures at a cost of nearly $900 billion.

Both Warner and Chambliss voted in favor of the tax cut extension (81 senators in all supported it). Now they're apparently ready to refocus on the deficit.

"It is critically important to get a plan in place in the next 12 months" before the presidential election year, Chambliss said, according to the Post.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Chambliss and Warner could introduce any number of ideas for deficit reduction into the Senate, either as a package or as single items.

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.