Former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Photo Credit: Paul Courson/CNN)
Washington (CNN) - A citizen task force made up of fiscal and political heavyweights hopes to come up with a bipartisan deficit-reduction strategy that Congress and the White House may use in crafting the federal budget.
"We're in this because America has probably the worst economic future that we've ever had," declared former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico, who is helping to lead the Debt Reduction Task Force, part of a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Domenici was chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee before his retirement. He was joined at a news conference Monday by Alice Rivlin, a Democrat who has been a director of the Congressional Budget Office and a vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, among other positions.
Both acknowledged talk of cost-cutting budget panels from both the White House and Congress. Rivlin said her group intends to come up with a complete budget and a strategy that could be used as a guide to cutting the deficit.
At risk from failing to act, Domenici told reporters, is the fact China owns about half the loans the United States has needed to finance its overspending. It's not the same situation as in World War II, when Americans bought war bonds to help finance the fight.
The current deficit, he said, cannot be covered by raising taxes alone since "the United States, through its leaders, have made a big mistake - to give our people more than we can afford to pay for."
Rivlin, who will co-chair the task force with Domenici, said, "We're hoping to point out that the crisis is sufficiently imminent, so that we have to move ahead. And we think that is likely to be persuasive."
The panel intends to provide a draft budget and a deficit-reduction strategy by the end of the year, "but after the elections" in November, Rivlin noted.
Among the other economic experts on the panel are former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez; Leonard Burman, a former deputy assistant treasury secretary; and Joe Minarik, former chief economist for the House Budget Committee.