Washington (CNN) – Polls show that Americans are concerned about federal budget deficits. Now House Minority Leader John Boehner wants them to chew over possible solutions – before they vote in the midterm elections on November 2.
Boehner proposed Wednesday that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, created by President Obama last month, issue its final report on October 1. That's two months earlier than the deadline set by Obama and, of course, a month before the midterms.
The 18-member debt commission has a huge task: It must suggest ways to start closing the gap between what Washington spends and what it collects in taxes. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have agreed to put the panel's recommendations up for votes before new lawmakers take office in early 2011.
So Boehner says it only makes sense that the commission should reveal its proposed fiscal solutions earlier "in order for the electorate to engage elected officials and candidates ... prior to the election." He also proposed that all commission meetings be held in public.
One problem with giving the panel a tighter leash: Time is already short. Only half of the panel members have been selected so far. Boehner, who gets to select three members, said on Wednesday that he isn't ready yet to make his picks.
Then there's the flat-out enormity of the commission's task. The deficits over the next decade are not considered sustainable and the longer-term forecasts paint an even grimmer picture.
And it remains unclear if Congress has the political will to make the difficult decisions that loom. When Obama named former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles to head the panel, he said the men were "taking on the impossible" by stepping into such a difficult debate.