Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Mike Crapo (Idaho) on Thursday announced they would support the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s debt commission.
Crapo and Coburn serve on the commission, whose chairmen released its final recommendations Wednesday. The full panel is set to vote Friday on the package, which includes several controversial proposals, such as a restructuring of the tax code, an increase in the retirement age for Social Security beneficiaries and a reduction or elimination of popular tax breaks. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), another member of the commission, announced earlier Thursday that he could not vote in favor of the package.
“There is more in this plan that I dislike than I like,” Coburn said, adding that he is nevertheless endorsing it because the nation’s fiscal situation has become too dire.
“I’m not typically a worrier. But I can tell you right now, I’m significantly worried about our short-term future,” the Oklahoma Republican added. “I think we’re at a day of reckoning. It doesn’t matter what your political party is or what your philosophical bent is, this is a starting point — and that’s all it is. ... More will have to be done.”
Coburn and Crapo declined to predict how their fellow Republican Senators would receive the debt commission’s recommendations, nor would they discuss the proposals likely to cause the GOP the most political heartburn. Both said they would have written a completely different plan had it been up to them, but they conceded the need to compromise. If the commission endorses the proposal — which many have said is a tall order — it would then go to Congress for approval.
Obama set up the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform earlier this year to address the nation’s growing federal deficit and debt. Crapo and Coburn said they were initially skeptical of the process but encouraged by the proposals the commission has drawn up.
Coburn and Crapo said they would be pushing their Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give the full blueprint an up-or-down vote as soon as possible.
“Our debt crisis is a threat not just to our way of life, but to our national survival,” the Idaho Republican said. “The threat that we face is so real and so close that we do not have further time for gridlock or inaction.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.