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Fiscal Commission Fails to Advance Debt-Reduction Plan

A bipartisan majority of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission backed a sweeping deficit reduction plan Friday, but not enough of the panel’s members voted yes to send the proposal to Congress for consideration.

The commission’s 11-7 vote in favor of the plan to slash $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade had the support of the bulk of the Senators on the panel, but House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) was the only House lawmaker on the commission to back it. Despite the majority vote, the plan will not go to the full Congress; it fell three votes short of the 14 votes needed.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans expected the blueprint would be translated into bill form and pass both chambers before the end of the lame-duck session.

Instead, lawmakers on the commission talked about setting the stage for budget negotiations next year.

House Republicans on the panel oppose the $1 trillion in tax hikes in the final report and the continuation of Obama’s health care overhaul, while House Democrats other than Spratt said the cuts would hit the middle class too hard.

“The top 1 percent of Americans now own 34 percent of America’s wealth,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said.

But even the lawmakers who opposed the specifics of the fiscal commission report agreed that there is a need to take on the debt.

And the final vote was notable for forging support across party lines in the Senate, with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) joining conservative Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Mike Crapo (Idaho) in endorsing the plan.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) opposed it.

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