January 24th, 2010
11:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Hatch, Menendez equivocate on fiscal commission


Washington (CNN) – President Obama’s newly-declared support for a law creating a bipartisan commission to tackle the nation’s mounting debt met with a cool reception from two key Senators Sunday, one a Democrat and the other a Republican.

“I’d have a rough time supporting it, to be honest with you,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on State of the Union. “I think it’d just wind up being another excuse [to raise taxes] rather than facing the tough problems that we all should be facing right now, that the president should be facing . . . He ought to do something about it rather than push it off again to another commission that never seems to work anyway.”

The President reversed course and issued a statement Saturday supporting the statutory proposal which could make recommendations binding on Congress. The White House previously proposed the commission be created by executive order – meaning its recommendations would have been non-binding.

Related: Under pressure, Obama backs fiscal commission

Asked whether he would support the statutory proposal, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, said he was considering both alternatives.

“I haven’t made that final conclusion,” Menendez told King. “I’m looking at, in fact, which of the two might be the best way to ensure that we reduce the deficit.”

Menedez’s sticking point with statutory proposal is the fact that it would only allow an “up-or-down” vote on the bipartisan commission’s recommendations. The other proposal now abandoned by the White House would have allowed Congress to amend the commission’s recommendations.

“Up-or-down votes on what a group people decided, is to some degree giving up the responsibility that you had to the people who elected you,” the New Jersey Democrat said Sunday.

Hatch had other reservations. “I suspect that the main thing that will come out of any commission like that will be tax increases,” he said. “I don’t see the stomach in the administration or our friends on the other side to do any cutting, to do any paring down of government.”

President Obama’s recent change of heart appears to have been influenced by the administration’s need to win support for an increase in the debt ceiling.

A vote on raising the national debt ceiling is coming up in the Senate Tuesday. Observers say that failure to lift the ceiling might further rattle the financial markets.

–CNN’s Ed Henry, Dana Bash, and John King contributed to this report.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. steven rothacker

    there is no solution without reigning in Federal spending to be in acordance with the US Constitution. Printing money ,borrowing and spending got us into this problem. It won't get us out of the problem.

    January 24, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Now they would just have a commission to recommend raising the debt ceiling. Big improvement.

    January 24, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Fooled Again

    How about ending the illegal wars, taking care of illegal immigration and stop bailing out and spend all China's money

    January 24, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Walter

    Where was Orin Hatch when a President of his party turned the largest surplus in American history into America's largest deficit, and managed to do it while losing jobs?

    Republicans have no credibility left on financial matters. A down-town street walker knows more about virtue than they do about economics.

    January 24, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Linda

    Why the heck does Obama need another commission to do what he was put in charge of.

    Again, trying to avoid responsibility.

    I guess we will never see accountability and prosperity from a Democrat again, after the Clinton/Gore years. Reinventing govt, Gore, gettin rid of waste and creating 22 million jobs.

    Now this loser tells us "ok, the plans I had weren't based on any sound fiscal policy, I just wanted to throw hundreds of billions of dollars to some friends"? And he want's to still claim that he "saved" jobs-forget creating any.

    Can we impeach this guy?

    January 24, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. A thomas

    Just watched replay and Hatch did not memtion taxes like quoted. Another reason why media rates lower than Congress

    January 24, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Al Beamish

    Welcome to the Socialist Obama! What's next? Obama and his BIG Socialist Government want to run your lives! Is that the change you vote for? Having second thoughts?

    January 24, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. Michael

    He mentioned taxes before that, that is what the reference is to.

    January 24, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Texas

    I think part of the problem is that people are accustomed to things being a certain way. Prices for milk are expected to be in a certain range; seniors expect a certain level of assistance from Medicare; unemployment benefits are expected to last for a certain time.

    Once you start cutting spending, you have to choose where to cut the spending. Chances are good that the bulk of the cuts will come from the social/public sector rather than the defense/private sectors, and when you cut social services, people have a hard time planning for the decrease in expected benefits/time range. People have already planned out their lives expecting the government to give a certain amount of assistance. When you pull that carpet away...it will damage people's lives.

    But I think...better to make that change now than the harder choice in the future, when our population gets bigger and the cuts hurt more and more people.

    Also...instead of having a commission on how to cut the national debt, why not have one on finding fraud? There is ample fraud in both parties (and third parties!), and I honestly think we're wasting a lot more money that the American people don't know about–and need to–in places foreign and domestic. Why not only spend on things that are absolutely necessary to save lives or heal? People have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    January 24, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. SocialismBad

    Just more smoke, mirrors & BS. The Democrats ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY! Demonstrate your ability to manage a simple checkbook you dolts! We need a constitutional amendment to force these fools to live within their means. They think the pockets of the American people are bottomless.

    CUT SPENDING! CUT SPENDING!! NO MORE NEW ENTITLEMENTS!! STOP THE FRAUD AND ABUSE!!

    January 24, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. JES

    Why don't we just give all of our money to Obama and we can all live on walfare that's the direction we are heading now.

    Who wants to work anymore when you can get welfare.

    January 24, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. They call me "tater salad"

    Our govenment is already full to the rim with greedy, ineffective, do-nothing, sh**heads collecting a paycheck! So I fail to see the logic in creating another agency which, in turn makes more room for even more greedy, ineffective, do-nothing sh**heads to come on in and collect a free paycheck!........They certainly don't EARN their paychecks in Washington thats for sure!!!!!!!!

    January 24, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. virginia nielsen

    We americans love fast food and fast solutions !!! I don't recall what we were doing when Bush, following Chenney's orders, led us to invade Iraq,borrow money from China, let Wall St take over and almost took this nation to its knees !!! Prez Obama is trying hard to bring us back to the future and MA, in a hint of anxiety, voted for that brainless Adonis. The only thing that is going to change is that he got a new "job" ( republicans don't think that being a Senator is a PUBLIC SERVICE) and his health insurance is going to be much better than mine.We had 8 years of a government for the rich people so now we need to be pacient and understand that it takes a while to fix allthis mess !!! No miracle!! And if we start to put the right wing back in power everything that we dreamed about is going back to zero. Remember, all the rich people in this country are REPUBLICANS !!! Started already with this election in MA and the resolution of the republicans in the Supreme Court !!! On this path in 2 years we're going to be governed by the Corporations for the Corporatins and Good Bye Democracy !!!

    January 24, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Pam

    This deficit reduction commission could be tool that saves our country from a debt induced economic collapse. If they increase the social security and Medicare eligibility age requirements....which they most assuredly must do...then they MUST also increase federal employee retirements or else the result will be a great INJUSTICE. There are 22.5 million US government employees. There are only about 20 million jobs in the nation's manufacturing and construction sectors combined. The average annual salary on the federal government payroll is $US 75,419 last year....while the US private sector has a per capita income of $US 39,751 and a per household income of $US 50,740 (according to Econwatch). This is a great injustice and must be corrected. The story is much the same at the state and local levels. In Pennsylvania, the average state employee has an annual salary of about $US 68,000 while the state's average HOUSEHOLD income is $US 48,576. Any recommendation from the deficit reduction commission must reduce federal workforce pensions much more than the amount that social security is reduced.

    January 24, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Melissa

    Obama is NOT socialist. My god, people need to grow up and start learning the definitions of words like an ADULT instead of believing everything they're told by the people who caused this problem in the first place.

    Conservatives need to stop whining and start finding a way to help instead of just screaming about taxes all the time. Its childish.

    As for the commission, its about bloody time.

    January 24, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. David in Oregon

    It's amazing how the depth of hate of the Obama haters on this board blurs their comprehension of the true facts: this commission was the idea of two congressman, one a Democrat and one a Republican. President Obama has consistently rejected the idea of a commission up until yesterday. It was never his idea and it was not supported by him or his administration. Please, get your facts straight before you spew your hate. David

    January 24, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. rodeo clown

    So, the Party of NO continues on their way!! Hatch's words will echo the "rest" of the Republican Party in the days and months ahead! Afterall, they must keep their "perfect record" of "NO", right??? And then they will complain that their "voices were not heard" in the process!!!

    January 24, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. lmk02

    I listen to both what the Republican said & Democrat said... Why is it when the Republicans had control didn't pass a health care plan when they could??? They have already proved that they don't want to work with the Democrats because They want Obama not to succeed!!! So why should the Democrats bother to try now???

    January 24, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. lmk02

    Lida: If the Republicans were not fighting with everything He is trying to do!!! He wouldn't need another commission... He is trying not only give the People affordable Insurance... He is trying to get jobs & bring the Defect down also... It is hard when He had the mess He had when He became President... So He is trying to do everything at one time... Because with out one the others won't work!!!

    January 24, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. lmk02

    Fooled Again: Obama is doing that by how He is working with the 2 Country and make Them stronger... He did not start the wars... The way Bush & the Republicans ran both of them sure didn't do any good!!! Now lets do it His way... It is working and will still work yet!!!

    January 24, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. lmk02

    Steven Rotacker: It was Bush that got us into this debt by printing the money in the first place... He took over the Country when the Defect was in the red & gave it to the Democrats with a 1.2 trillion defect plus lose of jobs!!! It will take getting a Medical Plan, & Jobs for the People for that to happen... That is why Obama wants to raise the taxes on those that make $200,000 & up... That & His Health Care Plan will bring the defect down!!!

    January 24, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. Sue

    I think that the Republicans should NOT become involved with this commission. Hatch is right--this is just an attempt by the Democrats to get the Republicans on board with their proposed tax increases.

    We just have to survive and wait this out for 10 more months--then the "CHANGE" will be here-–as the Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections.

    Once the "CHANGE" takes place--then the Republicans will be able to take a more active role regarding the economy, unemployment, deficit, spending, etc.

    January 24, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. C Spurgeon

    I havent seen Hatch or any other Republican support anything in the last year. ^ year term l;imits are the anser so we get dead wood on both sides gone.

    January 24, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |