President Obama has signed an executive order creating a bipartisan commission to address the government's budget problems. The President acknowledges that he is asking its members to attempt "the impossible." Republican leaders reluctantly consented to join the panel as they continue to reject any solution that involves higher taxes. Analysts in both parties say the effort faces a dauntingly poisoned political atmosphere.
In making the announcement President Obama said the trajectory is clear, and it is disturbing, but the politics of dealing with chronic deficits is fraught with hard choices, and, therefore, it's treacherous to officeholders in Washington.
Obama has given the panel until Dec. 1 to deliver a solution. That would be after the fall elections and the legislative isles may be full of lame-ducks.
Obama said that everything is on the table in the quest to balance spending and tax collections by 2015. This suggests he is willing to abandon his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class; something Republicans say they will not consider. Former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming will chair the commission.