Boehner Makes Demands for Debt Commission

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Obama is expected to sign an executive order next week to create a debt commission. The bipartisan panel would be tasked with finding ways to bring down the staggering deficit, $1.6 trillion this year alone, and to get spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on a sustainable path.

But Republicans, who call loudly for Democrats to show fiscal restraint every day, aren't buying it.

Yesterday, House Minority leader John Boehner told reporters that the president can't expect Republicans to "rubber stamp a backroom deal on a bipartisan commission for debt reduction."

He said the commission as formulated now is "stacked to raise taxes." The suspicion that the panel is really an easy way to raise taxes, without Congress getting the blame, is one reason bipartisan debt commission legislation failed to pass the Senate last month.

This morning, Boehner spoke over the phone with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about his concerns. Boehner told Geithner he wants the president to scrap whatever plan he's formulated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and start working with Republicans to form it.

He gave Geithner a list of demands. Here's the list Boehner released in a statement today:

• We are not willing to be part of a process where the Democrats get to decide which two of the Republicans are on the panel. That isn't bipartisan. A bipartisan commission should be truly bipartisan – 50/50.

• We are also not willing to be part of a commission that is too afraid to report its recommendations prior to the election. Why would we take part in a Commission that purposefully hides massive tax increases from the people until after they have voted? The American people want transparency in their government.

• The Obama commission would reportedly be barred from proposing cuts to any discretionary spending, which accounts for more than one-third of all federal spending. With discretionary spending off the table, tax increases would represent a very large portion of the policy options for decreasing deficits.

• Lastly, as Republicans told the president at the White House in December, we should not kick the can down the road to a commission – we should start cutting now. That can begin by repealing spending from the stimulus, returning TARP money to fight deficit reduction and cutting discretionary spending and adding real spending caps as the Republican budget did.

An aide to Boehner also said that the minority leader will make the same demands to Mr. Obama at the first of what will be monthly bipartisan leadership meetings at the White House this coming Tuesday.

Jill Jackson is a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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