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Deficit Commission Report Fails to Gain Needed Support

December 3, 2010
The  National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (otherwise known as the deficit reduction commission) failed to garner the necessary 14 votes today to approve its proposed recommendations and forward them on for Congressional consideration. While 11 of the 18 commission members who indicated that they would support the measure was more than expected, the Executive Order that established the Commission requires a minimum of 14 supporters. . The plan is essentially dead, however, it could become the basis of deficit reduction discussions should the new Congress decide to address this issue next year. Among the "yes" votes were the three Senate Republicans appointed to the panel: Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. They were joined by assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Among the recommendations in the report was the gradual increase in the federal gas tax by 15 cents between 2013 and 2015 with the revenue going to the Highway Trust Fund. There was little public discussion about this recommendation by the Commissioners, except for panel member Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who said that among the reasons he did not support the report was the gas tax increase proposal. Sen. Baucus is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which would be responsible for enacting this recommendation. In addition, a Fox News poll found that 77 percent of the respondents identified the gas tax as the least favored recommendation. SAFETEA-LU established two commissions to look at the future of transportation financing, which recommended increased federal investment in transportation infrastructure paid for by users in a variety of ways, including an increase in the federal motor-fuel fee. The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission recommended an increase of 25 to 40 cents per gallon, while the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission recommended an increase of 10 cents per gallon. Both commissions acknowledged the fact that public/private partnerships have limited applications to fund transportation projects and are not a substitute for core federal investment.
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